Last week was a busy one for child welfare advocates and this week promises to be the same with the final LR 37 report scheduled to be released on Thursday. Below is a brief recap:
On Monday, December 5th, the Legislature’s Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight and HHS Committees held a hearing on LB 603 regarding recent changes to Medicaid coverage of behavioral health services for children. The committees heard testimony from Magellan Behavioral Health Services and the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Medicaid. The committees also heard from parents of children with unmet behavioral health needs, providers and advocates. Appleseed’s testimony from the LB 603 hearing can be found here.
Also on Monday, the Foster Care Review Board released its annual report to the Legislature’s HHS Committee. The report found that the total number of caseworkers that a foster youth encounters has dramatically increased since 2008. The report also found that documentation was lacking in 37% of child welfare cases. The Foster Care Review Board’s annual report can be found here.
On Wednesday, December 7th, a listening session was held for senators on LR 305, an interim study to examine the public benefits and supportive services available to youth aging out of the foster system, including the needs and barriers that exist for youth in accessing such services. The listening session focused on a panel of youth from Project Everlast (formerly the Foster Youth Council) who have aged out of the foster care system who shared their perspectives and experiences related to these issues. A representative of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative shared some recent brain research on the powerful impact that the right supportive services can have on helping young people become healthy, connected, and productive adults. Nebraska Appleseed and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation provided recommendations for Nebraska and shared opportunities to address these challenges and create a system that meets the distinct need of this population.
This week, the Legislature’s LR 37 interim study will release its final report on Thursday, December 15th. The report is a result of the Legislature’s interim examination of Nebraska’s privatization of the child welfare system and will detail the Legislature’s findings and recommendations for the upcoming legislative session.