Federal Administration for Children and Families Approves the Final Program Improvement Plan for Child Welfare in NE

News Release
For Immediate Release: 6/17/2019

Lee Rettig, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-8287; lee.rettig@nebraska.gov

Lincoln – The Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) has received final approval of a Program Improvement Plan (PIP), created in response to a federal report assessing Nebraska's child welfare system.  The report is part of the Administration for Children and Families' Child and Family Services Review (CSFR) process, a collaborative effort between federal and state governments to monitor child welfare services, and is a requirement for Nebraska, and all states, to receive federal funding for child welfare.

The review is comprised of three core components including a comprehensive statewide assessment submitted by CFS, on-site case reviews across Nebraska and on-site interviews with stakeholders and participants.   

The CSFR report is a comprehensive review of the entire child welfare system and identifies areas of strength and areas needing improvement. 

The CFSR results were published in November of 2017.  Afterward, a group of stakeholders representing the courts, elected officials, tribes, advocacy groups, foster, adoptive and biological parents and service providers helped develop the PIP, offering insight and strategies to address shortcomings identified in the report and to craft goals and priorities for improving outcomes.

DHHS' PIP goals include:

    • Providing guidance and support to Child and Family Services Specialists to ensure safety for children through timely investigations and improving the monitoring of risk and safety throughout the life of a case.
    • Strengthening a culture of engaging children, youth and families and caregivers through frequent and quality visits and assessments.
    • Increasing support to the CFS workforce through several initiatives, including advanced Structured Decision Making supervisor training, implementing new tools and techniques to assist case managers with family engagement, assessment and case planning and   reducing turnover rates through a workforce retention research project.
    • Improving timeliness to permanency by addressing barriers to timely reunification, adoption and guardianship and by increasing placement stability and timely termination of parental rights.
    • Enhancing the current service array to ensure appropriate and individualized services are accessible to all families across the entire state.

“DHHS and its local and federal partners have already begun addressing some of the areas for improvement identified in the CSFR, through changes in policies, practices and procedures," said Matt Wallen, Director, Division of Children and Family Services.  “There were many stakeholders involved in the open and transparent process that led to the creation of the PIP. It's going to take continued collaboration with those organizations and agencies, and a focus on the plan with our stated goals in mind, to better serve families and help Nebraskans live better lives."

Final approval of the PIP marks the beginning of a two-year period to make and measure improvements.  CFS will submit semi-annual reports to the Administration for Children and Families identifying progress and successes.

“Together, we can strengthen the child welfare system in Nebraska," said Wallen.

View the final PIP on the DHHS website.


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