On Wednesday, Nebraska Appleseed and some of our partners organized a press briefing and roundtable discussion of child advocates regarding the current reform of the child welfare system. We also released a letter signed by over 800 individuals and organizations calling on the Governor and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to slow down the process of further privatization until an independent evaluation has been conducted in order to fully understand the conditions that led four of six private agencies to withdraw from the state’s child welfare reform.
We have met and will continue to meet with HHS officials and are encouraged by their announcement that they will be minimizing the layoffs of state caseworkers. However, we remain concerned that there is no evidence that the identified issue this move (to hand over more responsibility to the private agencies) is intended to address (role duplication and confusion between the state and private agency workers) is the primary cause of the problems experienced over the course of the last year. For example, significant questions remain unanswered and unaddressed as to the funding structure and the cost of non-Medicaid covered services.
While Appleseed has long supported comprehensive reform of the child welfare system and supports some of the underlying goals of this reform, we have concerns about the lack of transparency, accountability and oversight in this process and believe an independent and comprehensive analysis of the system is needed before continuing to move ahead.
We officially delivered the sign-on letter to the Governor and DHHS that we began circulating last week, but we are continuing to collect signatures. If you haven’t already signed on, please take a moment and do so now. Please go to www.voicesforchildren.com/signon and sign on to our letter to the Governor and DHHS and show your support for planning, evaluation and transparency in reforming the child welfare system.