February 8, 2012
To: Members of the Health and Human Services Committee
From: Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Re: Support for LB 1160 – Data System Improvements for Child Welfare Services
Good data is crucial to making child welfare decisions – from deciding the course of action for individual cases, to making administrative policy changes, to illustrating the need for statutory change. Nebraska’s NFOCUS system is difficult to use and does not readily keep track of the vital information that matters most to our vulnerable children and families. This has become especially apparent in the difficulties Nebraska has encountered relating to documentation and monitoring the performance of lead child welfare agencies.
Voices for Children in Nebraska supports LB 1160 as an important component in administering, monitoring, and performing more efficient and effective child welfare services. Upgrading our child welfare data system will provide key information that can drive comprehensive reform and monitor the effectiveness of investments in certain programs and policies. A new data system will also reduce the burden on child welfare caseworkers, making it easier to enter key documentation and track vital case information.
We appreciate this Committee’s commitment to using accurate, reliable data to drive child welfare decisions. The LR 37 report correctly identified a lack of accurate and relevant data as one of the challenges hindering our ability to make substantial improvements in our child welfare system. LB 1160 provides for an important, basic investment that can have far-reaching effects on case progress, caseworker turnover, quality improvement processes, and larger policy decisions. Data should be integral to efforts to reform Nebraska’s child welfare system and our work to safely reduce the number of children in out-of-home care and ensure child and family well-being. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
We urge you to advance LB 1160. Thank you.