Newsroom > DHHS News Release

April 13, 2018

Jennifer N. Brantley, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-8287

Editor’s Note – Photographs available: 

Caption 1: Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner (far left) met with representatives from various child welfare organizations, including CFS Director Matt Wallen, today.

Caption 2: From L-R, David P. Kelly, federal project officer (left), CFS Director Matt Wallen (center) and Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner.
Children and Family Services and Other Organizations Meet with Commissioner Milner to Discuss Child Welfare Best Practices
Lincoln – Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner of the Children’s Bureau, one of the top federal officials overseeing child welfare from an office of the Administration for Children & Families, met with team members from Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Wednesday, including DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services (CFS), Matt Wallen, along with representatives from several other key organizations from around the state, including the Foster Care Review Office, Department of Education, Chief Justice Michael Heavican, Court Administrator Corey Steel, Probation Administrator Ellen Brokofsky, Casey Family Programs, Children and Family Coalition of Nebraska, the Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations and the Nebraska Alliance of Family and Child Service Providers.
The meetings, arranged by DHHS and held at the Capitol and in the Nebraska State Office building, gave the department and attending organizations the opportunity to share with the commissioner the successes generated by various services and programming. They were also able to ask pointed questions regarding best practices and federal measures for success in the child welfare arena.
During the meetings, Dr. Milner discussed removing the stigma associated with seeking state assistance and stressed the importance of community partnerships as a way to ensure children and families have access to the resources and services they need to thrive. He also championed a need to go beyond the “nuts and bolts” of the law to break perpetuating cycles of childhood trauma, and to guarantee that youth who graduate from state care have been properly equipped with skills that will enable them to excel once they have gained independence. One solution the associate commissioner and CFS Director Matt Wallen delved into was the idea of positioning foster parents to serve as support for families, instead of having them act as substitute caretakers in parents’ stead.
“We, along with other community leaders, were privileged to engage in listening sessions with Associate Commissioner Milner this week,” said DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips. “Collaborative discussions, where we share ideas and open dialogue is encouraged, help prevent problems from becoming crises for our state’s children and families.”
CFS Director Wallen echoed her sentiments. “It’s important to continue engaging in discourse about child welfare best practices,” he said. “DHHS appreciates the opportunity we had today to host Associate Commissioner Milner. We are honored by his recognition of our efforts here in Nebraska.”
In addition to these meetings, Dr. Milner and First Lady Susanne Shore both addressed a meeting of the Dakota County Connections collaborative on Thursday, April 12. They were joined by State Senator Joni Albrecht, Mayor Rod Koch, and other dignitaries. Together, they championed Bring Up Nebraska, a statewide prevention initiative led by Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, designed to give local community partnerships the ability to develop long-term plans using the latest data to prevent life’s challenges from becoming a crisis for Nebraska families and children. They also recognized the prevention efforts and successes taking place in Dakota County. 
The commissioner plans to share what he experienced during his visit with other states and communities.