ACCESS Nebraska Working Group issues Statement of Principles to guide reforms of troubled system

For Immediate ReleaseNE_Appleseed_Icons_PublicAssistance-128

December 19, 2013

LINCOLN —  Today, the ACCESS Nebraska Working Group, a collection of advocates, community partners, and stakeholders, issued a statement of principles to be used as a guide to improve the troubled ACCESS Nebraska system.

Yesterday, the Legislative Performance Audit Office released findings that highlighted severe flaws in the ACCESS Nebraska system.

This statement of principles offers a framework that can be used to address some of these problems and help to ensure Nebraskans can access programs that can help people move ahead.

“This statement of principles outlines some of key elements that would ensure the ACCESS Nebraska system can work toward its intended purpose – to help Nebraskans access programs easily and quickly in order to provide stability while families work to get back on their feet,” State Senator Annette Dubas said.  “It is essential that there be established a clear and aggressive plan to make near-term improvements to the system with staffing, employee morale and customer service a priority.”

“Since its creation, ACCESS Nebraska has been a beleaguered system that has raised barriers to family stability,”  said Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould.  “By basing improvements to ACCESS Nebraska on this set of principles, we can make the system work for Nebraskans.  We can improve client experience, efficiency, reduce the backlogs, and allow more Nebraskans stability while they work to improve their situation.”

“Our state employers have worked tirelessly to do all they can to help clients interacting with the ACCESS Nebraska system,” said Julie Dake Abel, Executive Director, NAPE/AFSCME Local 61. “Unfortunately, workers have not been put in a position to succeed because they have not had the necessary support or resources. These principles recognize that workers need additional support to make sure they can do their jobs and reach their goal; to provide great support for every client.”

“We have been able to help a large number of families in need to navigate the ACCESS Nebraska system,” Center for People in Need Executive Director Beatty Brasch said.  “We have computers, we have people to help on site, and and there have been improvements in the system. However, there remains a need for a more clear plan, including better communication and direct help with the many clients who are not computer literate and are not able to fill out the lengthy application.”

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