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Nebraska News

Nebraska News

These are the most recent nebraska news articles:

Lawmaker: Critique of child welfare misleads

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
LINCOLN — A key state senator didn't disagree with a national advocate's criticism Monday that Nebraska's “extremism? in taking too many children from their families is driving the problems in the state's child welfare system. But State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, is dead wrong in describing the state's efforts to fix the troubles as simply “moving around the deck chairs.? “I'd take serious issue with that,? Krist said. “The whole process was broken. We needed to dissect it one piece at a time and fix it.? The senator responded to a report from Wexler's group that criticized Nebraska for removing children from their homes at more than twice the national rate. [...]
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Advocacy group says Nebraska takes too many kids

Monday, March 12th, 2012
Nebraska's attempt to reform its child welfare system this year fails to address the fact that too many children are yanked from their homes and kept in foster care, a national child advocacy group said Monday. The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform criticized Nebraska's reform proposals in a biting new report, which blamed most of the state's problems on a "take the child and run" mentality that needlessly splits families apart. Lawmakers are on the verge of passing child welfare measures this session that would scale back caseloads for social workers, create a child welfare watchdog that reports to the Legislature and end the state's experiment with privatized services in all but two Omaha-area counties. But family advocates said most of the measures fail to address the core problems: Nebraska removes children from their homes at a rate twice the national average, and keeps a higher proportion of its children in foster care than any other state. [...]
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Child welfare bills may get paid

Friday, March 9th, 2012
LINCOLN — For 15 years, Prince of the Road transportation services of Kearney has hauled foster children and other state wards to school, detention centers and appointments for the State of Nebraska. But amid the financial troubles that struck the state's effort to privatize its child welfare system, the 100-employee company stopped getting paid for many of its 10,000 trips a month. Nearly 20 drivers were laid off when the payments stopped. The company got rid of minivans to help deal with nearly $115,000 in unpaid bills for services. But it kept providing the rides because the state asked it to continue. "It was an extreme hardship," said Jim Laudenklos, the company's CEO and president. "That was money we used for payroll and fuel for my vehicles." Help may be on the way. [...]
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Child welfare changes a step closer

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
LINCOLN — Legislative efforts to revamp Nebraska's child welfare system won't directly affect Amy Peters. Not anymore, at least. The 22-year-old Lincoln college student aged out of foster care a few years ago. But she and other former foster children came to the State Capitol on Wednesday to watch lawmakers debate measures to ensure that the state properly cares for current foster children. Peters said she was encouraged by what she saw and heard, especially a bill that would limit workloads on case managers. "When you're in foster care, it's important you have access to your caseworker," she said. "It can make all the difference." [...]
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Fixes to child welfare system move into position to pass (AUDIO)

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Proposed fixes to the troubled state child welfare system have moved into position for a final vote in the legislature. The Unicameral has given tentative approval to five bills. All now are being prepared for final consideration by the legislature. Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee, told colleagues during floor debate that a Children’s Commission, created under LB 821, would help the state devise a strategic plan for the services it offers children who enter the system. “We need a strategic plan,? according to Campbell. “We went into this effort without one. We still don’t have one. We have somewhat of an operational plan, but we don’t have a strategic plan. We need to know where we’re going and what those major goals and benchmarks are. That has been the central crux of, I think, the problem.? [...]
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Girl Joins Push For Child Welfare Reform

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. -- A 5-year-old girl in Lincoln is putting a face and voice to child welfare reform legislation. Rhianna Esau and her adoptive parents are pushing for that reform at the state Capitol. "There was nobody out here fighting for our kids, and I find that heartbreaking," said Leigh Esau. Rhianna, a former state ward, is adopted and has a new family. But thousands of other Nebraska children aren't as lucky. "In the last couple of years, we've seen a lot of kids that haven't been able to get a foundation under them," Leigh Esau said. [...]
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Capitol: Child welfare oversight bills advance

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Lincoln, NE – The Legislature gave second-round approval Wednesday to a package of bills to change the child welfare system. Included in the package are measures to hire an outside evaluator to look at the child welfare system: an Inspector General to investigate trends, and a Children’s Commission to come up with a strategic plan. There’s also a requirement for the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee to recommend by April 1, 2013, whether a pilot program should be changed or continued. That’s a reference to private management of child welfare cases in Douglas and Sarpy Counties – the one area of the state where private agencies have not dropped out or been terminated for financial reasons. And while the Department of Health and Human Services remains in charge of the overall system, there are ongoing requirements for reports to the committee on how it’s functioning. [...]
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Virginia man to head state’s children and family services division

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Gov. Dave Heineman has chosen Thomas Pristow of Mineral, Va., to direct the Children and Family Services Division of the state Department of Health and Human Services. Pristow, who takes over March 21, will report to Health and Human Services CEO Kerry Winterer. Winterer said Pristow's experience in urban and rural settings should help the state with its ongoing child welfare reforms. Pristow is leaving a post as director of the Louisa County Department of Human Services in Louisa, Va. [...]
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Work remains even as legislature advances child welfare bills (AUDIO)

Monday, March 5th, 2012
Legislators have advanced five bills intended to address problems with the state child welfare system, but a legislative leader says more work must be done. Health and Human Services Chairwoman Kathy Campbell of Lincoln says she’s pleased all five bills have advanced, but she is quick to add this is just a first step toward addressing problems in child welfare. “All these pieces are now into place, but we need to carry them out,? Campbell tells Nebraska Radio Network. The Unicameral has advanced LB 821, which would [...]
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Foster care bill amended to provide rate increase

Thursday, March 1st, 2012
The state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would be required to apply for a federal waiver for a foster care demonstration project under a bill given first-round approval Feb. 28. The bill was amended to provide rate increases for foster parents starting July 1. Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell said LB820, introduced by the Health and Human Services Committee, could improve permanency for children in the foster care system and allow the department to fund an array of community-based services for children and their families. Title IV-E is the adoption assistance and foster care program funded by the federal government. Campbell said a waiver would provide flexibility in the use of Title IV-E funds to reduce the number of children in out-of-home care in Nebraska. “Our goal has always been to get more children served in their home,? she said. [...]
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