Newsroom > DHHS News Release

October 11, 2018

Lee Rettig, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-8287;

Child Welfare Task Force Continues Work

Lincoln – An interagency task force created to ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of Nebraska’s children is assessing current operations as it continues to identify opportunities for improvements in the state welfare system.

Governor Pete Ricketts’ child welfare task force was created in February and initially focused on improving the child intake process and increasing responsiveness to reports of neglect and abuse. Now, a private partner is assessing operations, policies and procedures in the eastern service area (ESA), ahead of issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for case management services in Douglas and Sarpy counties.

“The task force’s charge is to consider all alternatives for improvements to the child welfare system,” said Matthew Wallen, director of the Division of Children and Family Services (CFS). “Our private partner, The Stephen Group, is collecting information about the existing system.  We’ll use the information to improve operations while strengthening families and protecting children.”

The Stephen Group, a New Hampshire-based business and government consulting agency specializing in operational assessments and ongoing project management for child welfare agencies, is contracted with DHHS to provide technical assistance to strengthen the RFP and to make it attractive to solicit significant competition and improve outcomes for children and families.  The previous RFP for the ESA only received two responses.

“Conducting a feasibility study for the ESA will help provide the state with a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of our current delivery system for services,” said Wallen.  “The Stephen Group will collect and analyze data from the ESA and compare outcomes from the ESA against the rest of the state. They will examine our intake to ongoing case management process to assure it is effective and efficient for the families and children needing the department’s assistance.” 

The Stephen Group has previously aided child welfare reform efforts in Texas, Florida, Washington, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

“We have to make the best decisions we can, and to do so, we need to collect as much information as we can,” said Wallen.  “The RFP will go out later this month, and the information collected by The Stephen Group will help us craft a more effective, efficient model for providing child welfare services.  The state will have complete information when making decisions and reviewing RFP responses.”

The ESA is one of five CFS service areas in Nebraska and serves roughly 44% of the state’s children involved in the child welfare system. It is the only area served under a sub-award contract.  The current contract, with PromiseShip, expires June 30th, 2019.