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Lincoln – One recent change in the child welfare reform effort is already off to a good start, according to Department of Health and Human Services employees.
Management of child welfare cases moved March 1, from KVC-Nebraska to DHHS.
“The transition from KVC to DHHS went very smoothly,” said Children and Family Services Supervisor Leigh Loskill. “As far as our families were concerned, everything went very well. The external service providers were ready to work with us on the first day.”
However, following the announcement, she was prepared for the worst, which she said didn’t happen. “I was here when cases transferred from the State to KVC, and I expected this transition to be like that one. It wasn’t.”
Loskill’s opinion was shared by Office of Joint Services Supervisor Martin Jensen, “Everything went incredibly well, considering all the things that had to be done. A few people put in a lot of hours, which made the transition easier. Administration had everything planned well and made sure no services were interrupted.”
Children and Family Services Supervisor Kasey Stava agreed, “All supervisors remained with the same case managers so there was consistency for the workers. Case managers kept their same cases and we all knew the history of those cases.”
“Employees expected work would be different the next day, but everything ran as it did before,” Loskill agreed. “The most difficulty we had was learning the basics, such as timesheets, who to go to in HR, etcetera. But, those were small things that didn’t affect families, which was our biggest concern.”
The supervisors all said they received no calls from parents upset about the transition. “I heard from only one parent who said she expected mass chaos, but that everything stayed the same,” Loskill said.
Parents were sent a phone number to call with questions or concerns. About 40 calls were received. Most parents wanted to verify the name of their case manager. Very few were displeased.
Jensen and Stava also said that as State employees, they have more direct decision-making ability, and are able to move more quickly to aid children and families. “This change takes our work down to a personal level rather than one agency to another agency,” Stava said.
Since March 1, some former KVC-Nebraska employees who provided direct family services and some caseworkers have been hired by service providers.
Looking ahead, Stava acknowledged there were positives that came from the DHHS’ work with KVC-Nebraska, such as Structured Decision Making, which is being implemented across the state. SDM helps case managers evaluate a child’s safety and risk for potential future harm during the assessment phase. “Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in family drama. We’re more focused on why we’re involved with the family. SDM is an efficient assessment tool, and we’re not spending as much time gathering information.”