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Support for LB 1149 – Caseload Standards for Child Welfare Services

February 2, 2012
To: Members of the Health and Human Services Committee
From: Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Re: Support for LB 1149 – Clear Caseload Standards for Child Welfare Services

A qualified, trained, and stable child welfare workforce is crucial to ensuring positive outcomes for vulnerable children and families. While Nebraska has long struggled with maintaining caseloads and workloads that meet national best practice, the past few years of instability have made it harder to recruit, retain, and properly support caseworkers. The impact has been directly felt by children, families, and courts alike.
Voices for Children in Nebraska supports the clear, best practice caseloads outlined in LB 1149 as one of the most important investments our state can make in providing stability for children and families and making improvements to our child welfare system. Specifically, LB 1149’s caseload standards are important for:
1. Stabilizing our child welfare system. Caseload standards have been directly linked to the recruitment and retention of qualified workers. Trouble retaining workers can lead to instability and confusion, as children and families have to transition from worker to worker. High caseloads also contribute to failing to have enough time to file important documents and ensure services that move court processes along and expedite permanency. With caseload standards, more workers will stay and provide seamless services to families who have already experienced so much transition.
2. Improving outcomes for children and families. Numerous studies have shown the link between caseloads and workloads of child welfare staff and permanency and safety outcomes for children, as well as state performance on the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). With enough time caseworkers are able to effectively care for their clients.
3. Implementing best practices. Family engagement is a crucial part of emerging child welfare best practice. Caseworkers need enough time to build relationships, facilitate quality family team meetings, and adequately plan for permanency. Caseload standards will allow Nebraska to fully implement these important tools that have been proven successful.
We will not be able to repair and reform Nebraska’s child welfare system without strategic financial investments in providing better care for children and families. Caseloads are a crucial first step. We urge you to immediately fund and put in place the best practice standards contained in LB 1149. Thank you.

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