Last week, the Nebraska Children’s Commission released a child welfare funding primer focused on Nebraska’s current use of state and federal funding for child welfare and the best ways to leverage those dollars to lead to better outcomes for children who touch the child welfare system. The Nebraska Child Welfare Financing Primer was authored by ChildFocus Inc., in partnership with an advisory committee of child welfare experts in Nebraska, including Appleseed Child Welfare Program Director Sarah Helvey.
Key findings of the primer include:
- There is a need for increased accountability for state spending on child welfare – 71 percent of Program 354, which is the primary source of state funding, is spent on unspecified “child welfare services.”
- Nebraska is not taking full advantage of federal funding sources – The largest source of federal funding for child welfare, Title IV-E, is used in Nebraska at one of the lowest rates in the country. Nebraska could also access more funding through Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid.
- Nebraska does not currently have an overarching plan for the use of state, federal and private dollars for the child welfare system – This must be a comprehensive plan that includes the full continuum of child welfare services from various systems.
- The role of the private sector as a partner in financing child welfare services is still evolving.
The financing primer has already been shared with the Legislature’s Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. We believe that by making sure we have a transparent child welfare budget and by maximizing available resources, we can efficiently and responsibly give Nebraska children in foster care the best chance at a healthy and stable childhood that allows them to grow into happy, healthy, productive adults.