The Health and Human Services Committee released their report on child welfare and juvenile services reform today, after months of hearings across the state, surveys of attorneys, judges, foster and biological parents, a Legislative Performance and a Fiscal Audit. Voices for Children in Nebraska appreciates the time and effort the committee and all those involved in the report devoted to examining child welfare in our state. When the Legislature returns on January 4th, improvements to Nebraska’s child welfare system should be a top priority. The LR 37 report lays an important foundation for critically-needed action by Senators.
Voices for Children in Nebraska believes that every child deserves to grow up in a safe, loving environment, that meets their developmental needs. For many years, Nebraska’s child welfare system has fallen short of these goals. Recent reform efforts aimed to reduce the number of children in out-of-home care through the use of private contractors, but were underfunded and led to system instability. Nebraska will have to strategically invest in child maltreatment prevention and providing quality in-home services if it is truly to keep children safe and build permanent loving families. While this will require financial investment, a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust found that every state dollar spent on early home visiting yielded over five dollars in taxpayer benefits, since it kept children out of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
“The comprehensive LR 37 report has produced valuable information that Nebraska can use to craft a stronger child welfare system – one that better serves our vulnerable children and families,” said Executive Director, Carolyn Rooker. “Fixing our child welfare system will require a financial commitment from Legislators this session. We know from the LR 37 report process that much of the problem with our child welfare system has been a lack of funding and mismanagement of resources. We look forward to digging into the recommendations over the coming weeks and working with legislators to ensure our state makes sound investments in best practices that help kids and families succeed.”
To access the Health and Human Services Committee’s LR 37 report via the internet, go to http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/reports/health.php