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2015 Lecture SeriesMark your calendars for our upcoming 2015 Spring Lecture Series. Click here for more information and here to view the Save the Date.
Nebraska Court Improvement Project Director LeavingAfter close to 20 years, Vicky Weisz will be leaving her role as founding director of the Nebraska Court Improvement Project to move to Washington, DC where she will be working as a consultant for several national agencies. "It has been an honor and a privilege to work with so many talented and committed judges, attorneys and others who are trying to improve the Nebraska court and legal system for the children and youth they serve. "I look forward to hearing about continued successes from the Nebraska Court Improvement Project." Vicky will continue to use her current email address after she moves and welcomes people to keep in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Announcement from Corey Steel, State Court AdministratorUpon the announcement of long time Court Improvement Director Vicky Weisz leaving Nebraska the Supreme Court looked into all future options for the Court Improvement Project (CIP). After careful consideration to all options the Supreme Court felt it was best to transition the CIP under the direction of the Administrative Office of the Courts. There is no plan to change the direction and the work of CIP it will just no longer be under a contract with University of Nebraska Center for Children Families and the Law (CCFL). The Supreme Court thanks CCFL for the oversight of CIP for the past several years and the leadership of Vicky Weisz. This transition of CIP and its staff will occur within the next few months. Our goal is to have this transition as smooth and seamless as possible.
Children's Summit Announcement:The 2015 Children's Summit is being postponed to 2016 (September 7-9). The transition of the Court Improvement Project from the UNL Center on Children, Families, and the Law to the Administrative Office of the Court will create some inevitable adjustments in personnel and funding streams. The decision was made to postpone the Summit so that the new team is firmly in place with ample time to execute the complex logistics of a Children's Summit. Currently, it is expected that 2015 Through the Eyes Regional Conferences will be held in September as they usually are in the years between the statewide Summits.
In Memorium: Judge Michael OffnerThe death of Judge Michael Offner, Lead Judge of the 10th District – Team 1, at the beginning of this month means more than just the loss of a man who served the justice system in southern Nebraska for 14 years. For RuAnn Root of CASA of South Central Nebraska, it’s the loss of a hearty contagious laugh. For Judge Michael Burns, it’s the loss of a champion of Adoption Day. For attorney Amy Skalka, it’s the loss of a judge who always made sure each child’s voice was heard. “I recall one case where what should have been a routine fifteen-minute review hearing turned into almost an hour conversation between Judge Offner and the child,” Amy said. “When asked about the length after the hearing, Judge Offner replied that children will always have the opportunity to be heard in his courtroom.” udge Offner was an original Lead Judge of the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative since its inception in 2006. He managed three small teams which formed one large team within the eastern part of the 10th Judicial District, and regularly volunteered to host trainings and lead reform efforts. As a parent of two adopted sons and with a strong belief in the family unit, Judge Offner was a leader of Adoption Day, which he organized every year. Judge Offner was a likeable, approachable person with great character and he will be greatly missed. Read his obituary
- A public fact sheet regarding the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study was developed by the Nebraska Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and a work group of stakeholders. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study is one of the largest investigations ever to assess the link between childhood maltreatment and later life health and well being. The study included more than 17,000 HMO members who had physical examinations and agreed to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of maltreatment and/or dysfunction. The study suggests that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death. Those working with the child welfare and court system will find this fact sheet relevant for both the parents and children that they serve. Knowing the connection between early childhood experiences and future health and well being is important to prevention and recovery. A copy of the fact sheet can be found here.
- The Nebraska Crime Commission released their annual Crime in Nebraska report. The report notes that juvenile arrests were down 14% from 2012, while adult arrests were down 7% from 2012. The full report can be found here.
- The Nebraska legislature recently allocated five million dollars to the Community-Based Juvenile Services Aid Program, which provides funds to Nebraska counties and tribes to establish and deliver community-based services for youth in the juvenile justice system. Click here for full press release.
- NDHHS announced the opportunity for Medicaid coverage to age 26 includes not only youth who age out of foster care at 19, but also youth who left foster care at the age of 18. Previously, there was a question over whether the ACA provision for Medicaid coverage to age 26 included both 18 & 19 year olds. Read the story here and on 10/24 watch the public hearing on the interim study of the impact of the ACA provision on NET OnDemand.
- Most sections of legislative bill 464 went into effect on July 18, 2014. Click here to view our webinar and supporting materials including: power point slides ; jurisdictional chart; payment of services flow chart; and a section by section summary. For any questions or concerns regarding LB 464 please contact Christine Henningsenfor more information.
- The new Young Child Court Form was rolled out at the regional conferences. This form was created by a committee of mental health and juvenile court practitioners, and piloted at Omaha Kids and Judges Day. The form is intended for children around the ages of 6 to 10, and is meant to provide the child a voice in the court process and to let the judge know how he/she is doing. Local teams are urged to develop a process to ensure all young children are being encouraged to complete the form and the form is being sent to the court. Click here for the form or it can also be located under the resources tab.
- The Older Youth Court Questionnaire has been updated as part of our efforts in making the form web-based. The changes were made based on suggestions from judges and Project Everlast councils, and the language has been made more understandable to young people. Click here to find the updated form.
- A new report has been issued which outlines some of the biggest barriers the ICPC process can pose for families separated by state lines. Read it, here. For more information on the ICPC process, visit our ICPC page.
- Improve service delivery to the family - frontloaded, targeted to the issues and effective
- Improve our response to older youth in care
- Expedite quality evaluations and targeted treatment for substance-abusing parents
Chadron State College Conference a Collaborative Success
On November 5, 2014, child welfare and juvenile justice students and professionals came together for a day-long conference hosted by Chadron State College. The event, which was free and open to the public, is held every year as the capstone project of the “Communities & Organizations” class within Chadron’s Social Work Program. Adding to the success of the event was the collaboration with the District 12- Northern Panhandle Through the Eyes of the Child Team led by Judge Russell Harford.
Latest Caselaw Updates
In re Interest of Khareem B and Autrell B
In re Interest of Khareem B and Autrell B Nos. A-14-602 & A-14-603; Not designated for permanent publication Filed December 23, 2014 SUMMARY: Termination of a mother’s parental rights was supported by evidence she had not had contact with the children in ten months, had not completed substance abuse treatment, and was not in a place to provide [...]
In re Interest of Johnathon M.
In re Interest of Johnathon M. No. A-14-0555; Not designated for permanent publication Filed December 29, 2014 SUMMARY: Evidence supported termination of parental rights where the child had been placed in out-of-home care for 26 months and the mother was inconsistent with services. In addition, reasonable efforts were properly [...]
In re Interest of Eric H. et. al.
In re Interest of Eric H. et. al. No. S-14-424; Not designated for permanent publication Filed January 22, 2015 SUMMARY: A no contact order, an order allowing a child to testify in camera and outside the presence of the mother, an order denying the mother’s motion to remove the guardian ad litem or exclude her from depositions, an [...]
In re Interest of Catalino V.
In re Interest of Catalino V. No. A-14-0228; Not designated for permanent publication Filed August 19, 2014 SUMMARY: Indefinite suspension of a father’s visitation is a final, appealable order that affects substantial rights. However, juvenile court did not err in suspending father’s visitation indefinitely because visitation was not in the son’s best interests. Trenel (DOB 3/20/20014) was removed from [...]
In re Interest of Lorenzo and Angel P.
In re Interest of Lorenzo and Angel P. No. A-13-343 & A-13-344; Not designated for permanent publication Filed August 26, 2014 SUMMARY: Termination of a father’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests where the father did not successfully address his substance abuse and made no progress toward reunification. On October [...]