Newsroom > DHHS News Release

April 9, 2010

Kathie Osterman, Communications and Legislative Services, DHHS, (402) 471-9313

State Terminates Visinet Contracts

Services to Children and Families to Continue

Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) terminated its contracts late Thursday afternoon with Visinet, one of the lead contractors chosen last fall to provide service delivery and service coordination services through the State’s child welfare and juvenile services reform initiative.

According to Kerry Winterer, DHHS CEO, the move was taken after Visinet notified DHHS that they intended to file a petition for bankruptcy proceedings, which they did later Thursday. He said DHHS has begun discussions with the remaining contractors to transition services, but in the interim DHHS case managers will resume case coordination for those families assigned to Visinet.

“While this is unfortunate, the important thing is that services to children and families will continue, and we are prepared to do what it takes to make sure services continue,” said Winterer. “We have had discussions with Visinet over the past week, and we have made the decision to take back case coordination and service delivery through June 30.”

According to Todd Reckling, director of the DHHS Division of Children and Family Services, Visinet provided services in the Omaha area and in the southeastern part of the State, including Lincoln.

“Because Visinet has filed bankruptcy and there is a question about their ability to provide these services, DHHS will take back all case management activities for families previously assigned to Visinet,” said Reckling. “DHHS will also begin contracting with the service providers with whom Visinet subcontracted and other providers to assure continuity of services for families.”

Reckling said DHHS has begun working in the interim with the remaining lead contractors to expand their service coordination and service delivery capabilities.

“We have had conversations with the remaining three lead contractors (KVC, Nebraska Families Collaborative, and Boys and Girls Home), and they are committed to serving children and families involved with DHHS,” said Winterer. “They agree the reform is important and will have the positive results we’re all seeking.”

DHHS has said all along there would be some challenges as they reform how children and families are served by the child welfare and juvenile services system in Nebraska, and that they would meet them head on. Other states that have implemented reform efforts have had to make similar adjustments along the way.

About 70 percent of children and youth in the child welfare and juvenile services system are currently served outside their homes. This reform effort intends to reverse that trend so that 70 percent are served in their homes, whenever possible, with services designed to meet the needs of that family.

“There is agreement that this type of public-private partnership to serve more kids in their own homes and communities is the right direction, and we’re committed to working through any issues to reach positive outcomes and provide the best services possible to children and families,” said Reckling.