Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
June 29, 2016

Contact
Russ Reno, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-8287 or
(cell) 402-450-7318, or russ.reno@nebraska.gov

New DHHS Pilot Program Coordinates Family Assistance,
 Child Welfare Services in Douglas, Sarpy, Lincoln counties

Lincoln— Families in Douglas, Sarpy and Lincoln counties who receive economic assistance benefits and may be headed toward or are involved in the child welfare system could be assisted by a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) pilot program to help them eliminate abuse and poverty in their lives.

Implementation of the pilot project, called Family-Focused Case Management, will begin July 1, in Omaha and North Platte with full implementation in August as staff training is completed. Family coaches will assist families agreeing to participate in navigating the services and requirements of Economic Assistance benefits, and Protection and Safety child welfare within DHHS, while aligning services – ResCare in North Platte and Maximus in Omaha – and other local resources to address their needs.

“Family-Focused Case Management is a holistic approach to help struggling families find a path to employment and a stronger family leading to sustainable solutions for poverty,” said Courtney Phillips, DHHS CEO. “This is a new approach in providing services that brings together employees from the Economic Assistance and Protection and Safety units in DHHS to work together to share their experience and expertise with families, teaching and providing the building blocks essential for them to be successful. Families are better served when our programs work together.”

The family coaches will directly work with families receiving Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) benefits and participating in Employment First to prepare them to find a job, said Doug Weinberg, Children and Family Services director. The coaches will be familiar with the work of both services, and will connect` the family with the department, service providers and other community resources for additional assistance.

ADC provides assistance to low-income families with children 18 or younger to pay for basic family living expenses like rent, utilities, food, clothing, and other necessities. Employment First helps families achieve economic self-sufficiency through job training, education, and employment preparation while transitioning from welfare to the workforce.
 
Families can find themselves overwhelmed coordinating the requirements of more than one program, he said.

“The coaches will take part with department staff and service providers in identifying the challenges of the family, and help them learn about requirements as they sort through the programs,” Weinberg said. “Currently, families do that themselves, which can be daunting and time consuming. Families will be able to receive helpful benefits sooner and improved family stability while preparing for future employment.”

Included in family meetings with the parents may be representatives of schools, courts, Probation, and DHHS Economic Assistance and Protection and Safety services to improve communication, understanding and coordination of services.

“Many families have several needs that we can’t hope to resolve with one program,” Weinberg said. “With Family-Focused Case Management, we have a better chance to move the family to economic self-sufficiency with children who are safely at home.”

 

-30-