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Nebraska News

  • Lawmaker: Critique of child welfare misleads
    LINCOLN — A key state senator didn't disagree with a national advocate's criticism Monday that Nebraska's “extremism? in taking too many children from their families is driving the problems in the state's child welfare system.

    But State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, is dead wrong in describing the state's efforts to fix the troubles as simply “moving around the deck chairs.?

    “I'd take serious issue with that,? Krist said. “The whole process was broken. We needed to dissect it one piece at a time and fix it.?

    The senator responded to a report from Wexler's group that criticized Nebraska for removing children from their homes at more than twice the national rate.

    Read more …

  • Advocacy group says Nebraska takes too many kids
    Nebraska's attempt to reform its child welfare system this year fails to address the fact that too many children are yanked from their homes and kept in foster care, a national child advocacy group said Monday.

    The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform criticized Nebraska's reform proposals in a biting new report, which blamed most of the state's problems on a "take the child and run" mentality that needlessly splits families apart.

    Lawmakers are on the verge of passing child welfare measures this session that would scale back caseloads for social workers, create a child welfare watchdog that reports to the Legislature and end the state's experiment with privatized services in all but two Omaha-area counties.

    But family advocates said most of the measures fail to address the core problems: Nebraska removes children from their homes at a rate twice the national average, and keeps a higher proportion of its children in foster care than any other state.

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  • Child welfare bills may get paid
    LINCOLN — For 15 years, Prince of the Road transportation services of Kearney has hauled foster children and other state wards to school, detention centers and appointments for the State of Nebraska.

    But amid the financial troubles that struck the state's effort to privatize its child welfare system, the 100-employee company stopped getting paid for many of its 10,000 trips a month.

    Nearly 20 drivers were laid off when the payments stopped. The company got rid of minivans to help deal with nearly $115,000 in unpaid bills for services. But it kept providing the rides because the state asked it to continue.

    "It was an extreme hardship," said Jim Laudenklos, the company's CEO and president. "That was money we used for payroll and fuel for my vehicles."

    Help may be on the way.

    Read more …

More Nebraska news...


National News

  • Study Finds New Guidelines Help Judges Better Serve Abused and Neglected Children and Their Families
    Children who are removed from their parents for abuse or neglect allegations experience better outcomes when judges follow a set of decision-making guidelines during the initial removal hearing, according to a study released today by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ). Development of a benchcard containing the guidelines grew out of a national NCJFCJ initiative, Courts Catalyzing Change: Achieving Equity and Fairness in Foster Care (CCC). In partnership with Casey Family Programs and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, NCJFCJ member judges throughout the country are working to reduce the overrepresentation of children of color in the foster care system along with the disparate outcomes they and their families experience.

    Researchers tracked more than 500 children through the court system in three cities and found that 45% more children were able to return home to their parents or live with extended family members when judges used the benchcard during their hearings.

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  • Court may not make ruling on child abuse case
    The Supreme Court indicated Tuesday that it may not make a decision about whether child social workers need warrants to talk to potential victims of sex abuse at school.

    Justices said the young girl whose mother sued over her seizure at school is no longer a child and therefore the case is moot. During the oral arguments, she was referred to as S.G.

    "There is no case or controversy between S.G. and the petitioners," said her lawyer, Carolyn Kubitschek.

    "Then why are you here?" Chief Justice John Roberts said.

    Read more …

  • Pilot program offers respite option for area foster families
    Kris and David Nelson enjoy being parents. So much so that after their two daughters grew up, the couple opened their home to foster children.

    "We love family and feel this is something we can offer to others who need a caring family," said David Nelson, 62, a pastor.

    No matter who the child is or how long they stay, the Nelsons want to show that all are loved and all are welcome. Hugs and encouraging words are given freely.

    The Nelsons make time for creative activities like the New Year's "super sandwich" tradition, where fixings are piled high, Dagwood style.

    David and Kris Nelson at the moment care for six children --- two adopted, four foster --- between 2 and 15 years old, plus former foster kids who come back to visit.

    Now and then, the Nelsons, like other parents, need time to regroup and recharge, according to the couple's daughter, Andrea Nelson, 27, of Waterloo. Likewise, most kids enjoy some time away from their parents with a fun baby-sitter, she said.

    But until last year, child care proved complicated for the Nelsons and remains a challenge for many of Iowa's 3,000 licensed foster families, according to Nancy Magnall of the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.

    Read more …

More National news...

Priorities

  1. Reduce the time to reunification
  2. Improve systems effectiveness with parents with substance abuse issues
  3. Improve the use of parenting time to improve permanency