On Tuesday of last week, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Nebraska Legislature continued its investigation of the effects of privatization on the state’s child welfare system through the LR 37 interim study process. As part of the LR 37 process, Nebraska Appleseed conducted a survey of juvenile court attorneys across the state and asked them to share their perspectives of and personal experiences with privatization. The survey asked a parallel set of questions of attorneys who practiced in Lincoln, Omaha, and surrounding areas (where privatization still exists) and the more rural parts of the state (where privatization was implemented and then subsequently ended).
Nebraska Appleseed’s Sarah Helvey presented the results of this survey to the committee at the hearing last week. The survey showed that, in general, attorneys responding to the survey in privatized areas of the state were more satisfied with the child welfare system before privatization, and since the implementation of privatization they have become increasingly dissatisfied with the system. Similarly, attorneys from other parts of the state that are not currently privatized generally responded that they were more satisfied with the child welfare system before privatization. However, the attorneys that responded from the rural areas responded that they were slightly more satisfied with the current state of child welfare system since the state resumed control of cases as compared to during privatization, though not back up to pre-privatization levels. View charts showing these trends.
Also presented at the hearing were results of surveys of birth parents and foster parents conducted by the Ombudsman’s office and juvenile judges and local teams by the Court Improvement Project. A report from the LR 37 interim study is expected in mid-December.