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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2018

CONTACT
Matt Litt, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9313

DHHS Division of Children and Family Services Submits Program Improvement Plan to Feds

Lincoln – On February 20, the Division of Children and Family Services (CFS), Department of Health and Human Services, submitted the Program Improvement Plan (PIP) as part of the federal Child and Family Services Review (CSFR). On November 21, 2017 the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released their final report assessing Nebraska’s child welfare system.
 
CFS organized a briefing for federal reviewers to present the findings in the final report on November 29. Approximately 200 attendees representing 112 organizations and individuals, including: attorneys, guardian ad litems, biological parents, foster and adoptive parents, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Native American tribes, child and domestic abuse groups, state appointed bodies, Inspector General for Child Welfare, advocacy organizations, state senators, foundations, and more than 40 service providers, were present.
 
The following day, attendees began identifying ways the state can improve its services to children and families. Ideas were developed to address areas of improvement. The state was to submit the PIP to the federal partners 90 days after the report was released and CFS successfully met this deadline.
 
The submitted CFSR PIP can be found here and was developed by the CORE PIP Team, which consisted of DHHS staff multiple divisions and stakeholders. This team helped to shape the input received during the meetings in November into the final document that was submitted on February 20th. 
 
“Our team had a good understanding of the identified areas of improvement and we worked collaboratively and transparently with stakeholders to address the items raised in the Child and Family Services Review. Working side by side, we have successfully completed our deliverable as we continue our work of keeping families together and ensuring the safety and well-being of the children in our care,” said Director Matt Wallen, Division of Children and Family Services.
 
Sandy Thompson, Executive Director of Families Inspiring Families and member of the CORE PIP Team, said, "The stakeholder community was active in the PIP process and much of our input is in the plan that was submitted to the federal government. This has been a positive experience working with our partners at the Nebraska Division of Children and Family Services." Thompson has been involved in child welfare for close to 40 years in the Lincoln, Nebraska community.
 
The submitted PIP laid out strategies to achieve the following goals:
  1. To provide appropriate guidance and support to Child and Family Services specialists to ensure safety for children through timely face-to-face contact; improving risk and safety assessment and monitoring throughout the life of the case.
  2. To strengthen the culture of engaging children, youth, families, and caregivers through frequent and quality visits.
  3. To enhance the child welfare workforce.
  4. To improve timeliness to permanency by addressing barriers to timely reunification, adoption and guardianship and by increasing placement stability and timely TPR.
  5. To enhance the current service array and resource development system to ensure appropriate and individualized services are accessible.

The federal ACF will now review the Child and Family Services Review PIP. After the federal review, the state will discuss updates, changes, and implementation with the federal agency as the PIP is finalized. When the PIP is finalized, CFS will submit semi-annual reports. 
 
Background
 
The Child and Family Services Review is a collaborative effort between the federal and state governments to monitor child welfare services in each state. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau conducts the review.
 
There are three phases to the Child and Family Services Review. First, the State develops a comprehensive assessment of child welfare services throughout the state. Second, an onsite review is conducted by both federal and state partners. Third, the state develops a PIP that it will implement over the following two-year time period.

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