Recently, state officials and national experts have commented that privatization can take a number of years to see results. But, as Appleseed and other advocates have said – and this cartoon in Tuesday’s Omaha World Herald points out: children in the system don’t have years to wait.
Over the past year and a half since privatization was initiated, the reform has only increased the instability in the system and has not shown improved outcomes for children. Experience in other states suggests that privatization itself can’t fix a broken system. Instead, it is the state’s responsibility to fulfill its obligations to children in its care and custody by structuring a system that protects and meets the needs of children and families first before turning to private partnerships to try to enhance outcomes for children.
Simply passing the buck to the private sector without addressing core issues, like gaps in the behavioral health system and the cost of non-Medicaid covered services, only expends precious time and resources without solving the underlying problems that have been plaguing Nebraska’s child welfare system for more than a decade. It is time for the Department of Health and Human Services to pull back from this reform and focus on using its resources to invest in solutions to these structural problems.