Since our last post on the child welfare privatization following the announcement that CEDARS Youth Services terminated its contract with HHS, there has been more bad news. The stateâ€™s contract with a second agency, Visinet, was terminated two weeks ago and Visinet subsequently filed bankruptcy. Then, last Thursday night, Visinet closed its doors after they were unable to work out a transition plan with the state. Caseworkers scrambled to find placements for children and some children who had been placed in Visinetâ€™s shelter were housed in the detention center because no they had no other placements. Other children missed critical therapy services and visitation with their parents. Foster parents and other providers have not been reimbursed for services and many of them are under significant stress as a result. Hundreds of Visinet employees have lost their jobs.
It does not seem an overstatement to say that the child welfare system in Nebraska is in crisis.
Yet, the state continues to say that they intend to move forward with this reform. Nebraska Appleseed has concerns that the contracts are underfunded, lack oversight, and put local agencies and Nebraska children and families at risk. We are calling on the Governor, HHS, and the Legislature to examine what went wrong and to restructure this reform. We hope they will do so before more harm is done.
Click here to read Appleseedâ€™s Op-Ed in the Omaha World Herald.
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