Newsroom > DHHS News Release

Jan. 25, 2012
Russ Reno, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-8287 / 402-450-7318
Privatization of Child Welfare Shows Improvement in Key Measures
Operations Plan Now Online
Lincoln – Since privatization of Nebraska’s child welfare system, improvement has been seen in five of the six critical federal standards that measure child safety and permanency, according to Interim Director of Children and Family Services Scot Adams.
In the one standard that has not improved since January 2009, permanency for children in foster care, Nebraska exceeds the national standard, he said. Nebraska also exceeds the national standard targets for absence of maltreatment for children in foster care and timeliness of adoptions. Fourth quarter data will be updated by the end of January.
The three other measures are absence of maltreatment recurrence, placement stability and timeliness and permanency of reunification of families.
“Overall, we are moving the system in the right direction, and ultimately this has a positive impact on children,” Adams said. “Our strategies for moving forward are contained in the recently developed Operations Plan, which is now available on our website.”
Adams said the plan identifies priorities, promotes system accountability and provides focus for the day-to-day operations of the child welfare and juvenile services system. The Operations Plan is located at:
“We have placed the plan on the DHHS website so all Nebraskans can see where we are, what we’re doing and where we’re headed with child welfare reform,” he said. “It will be regularly updated so progress on the initiative can be measured.”
The plan includes seven priorities:
  • Build a comprehensive quality improvement system focused on achieving  key outcomes for children and families.
  • Build a system that promotes prevention and early intervention for children and families.
  • Infuse performance and accountability throughout the system.
  • Build a service array for children and families that is accessible and delivered as close to the child’s family home as possible.
  • Recruit and retain a stable and competent workforce.
  • Improve communication with both internal staff and external stakeholders.
  • Maximize funding.
Vicki Maca, administrator of the DHHS Southeast and Eastern service areas, was hired last June to lead the Families Matter reform in the DHHS eastern and southeast service areas, including development of the plan, which has been used internally since October, he said. In addition, Casey Family Programs, which aims to improve the lives of the nation’s most vulnerable children and especially those in the public child welfare system, provided consultation, resources and brought a national perspective to the Operations Plan.
“DHHS launched Families Matter to support the safety, permanency and well being of children in their homes and communities through prevention, diversion, treatment and aftercare services,” Adams said. “Besides the Operations Plan, several other efforts to more effectively meet the needs of children and families in our system are being implemented.”
He pointed to Structured Decision Making, which has been used in more than 20 other states since the mid-1980s, and helps identify and more effectively address child safety. SDM has been implemented in DHHS’ Eastern and Southeast service areas and case managers in the remainder of the state will begin training this spring.
DHHS is utilizing the research resources and flexibility in services offered by KVC and Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC), which contract with DHHS to provide services to children in the child welfare and juvenile services system in the east and southeast areas of the state. The goals and priorities of DHHS and the contractors are in alignment. He said improved data will help evaluate the Families Matter initiative.
Adams said the recent focus of attention on children’s issues will be positive for children and families in the system. “As part of the reform of child welfare and juvenile services, we are listening to the thoughts and experiences of children, families, staff, agencies and the Legislature,” he said. “Our hope is that we consequently are able to increase the number of children safely served in or in close proximity of their home.”