Voices for Children submitted written support for LB 774:
January 18, 2012
To: The Health and Human Services Committee
From: Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Re: Support for LB 774, Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Reporting
Timely and accurate data are a crucial part of making sound policy and advancing reform for children and families in the child welfare and juvenile justice system. For many years, key information about how these systems function and serve children has been difficult to obtain, making it challenging to coordinate and focus reform efforts for policymakers and stakeholders alike.
Voices for Children in Nebraska supports LB 774. As part of the LR 37 report’s recommendations, LB 774 is an important first step in providing and consolidating data for easy use by all three branches of government on how state programs are serving children and families. The key reports DHHS would provide to the committee annually for the next three years already are required in statute and include:
1.) child caring agencies’ condition, management, and competency to care for juveniles its care;
2.) commitments, placements, facilities and programs that serve wards of the Office of Juvenile Services (OJS);
3.) a summary of programs and services provided to children and families that aim to satisfy the Family Policy Act;
4.) caseloads of child protective service workers;
5.) an annual review of the children’s behavioral health programs established after the Safe Haven Crisis;
6.) the number of waivers provided to foster placements and the number of children living in relative foster homes; and
7.) the Child Death Team’s finding and recommendations.
We appreciate the commitment and leadership of Senator Howard and the whole Health and Human Services Committee to ensuring that data and reporting are a key part of mapping out solutions and improving our child welfare and juvenile justice systems over the next three years. We look forward to working with the Committee to advance child welfare reform, supporting vulnerable children and families with the right array of services that keep them safe and together whenever possible.
We urge you to advance LB 774, an important piece of child welfare reform and policy decisions going forward. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Thank you for your time and commitment to Nebraska’s children.