On Friday, CEDARS Youth Services announced that it is terminating its contract with HHS to provide out-of-home services as part of the stateâ€™s privatization of foster care. In a statement to the Lincoln Journal Star, CEDARS president and CEO Jim Blue cited financial reasons and indicated that projections showed the agency would lose $5.5 million next year under the contract. This news confirms long standing concerns that the resources provided through the contracts are inadequate to enable providers to meet the needs of children and families in the system. We hope the state will use this opportunity to reevaluate the current reform plan. Otherwise, we fear that local agencies and, most importantly, the safety and well-being of Nebraska children and families are and will continue to be at risk.
Here is a statement we released on Friday:
Rebecca L. Gould, Executive Director of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest issued the following statement today in response to CEDARS Youth Services terminating its state child welfare contract:
â€œToday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that CEDARS Youth Services is terminating its contract with the state as one of five lead agencies in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Reform Contract. CEDARS determined that the contract was not financially feasible and that the cost to provide the services required by the contract was higher than anticipated and exceeded the amount funded by HHS.
We are gravely concerned that the state is asking our local social services agencies to do the impossible, provide better outcomes for children with inadequate resources. This not only puts local social services agencies in jeopardy but most importantly risks the safety and well-being of thousands of children in Nebraskaâ€™s child welfare system.
This news confirms the worst fears of Appleseed and many advocates and comes at an already vulnerable time for children in the system. As the out-of-home reform process has begun over the past few months, there has been a great deal of concern about inadequate resources and confusion among families, providers, attorneys, and other stakeholder as to the responsibilities of the state and agencies to provide services and supervision of cases.
Ultimately, the state is the legal custodian of children who are wards of the state. As such, the state is legally obligated to ensure that appropriate services, oversight, and resources are provided to children in care.
We hope the state will use this opportunity to reevaluate the viability of this reform as it is currently structured. Nebraska Appleseed has long supported comprehensive reform of the foster care system. However, in order to be successful, reform must set forth details and clearly delineate responsibilities, it must protect the safety of children and the rights of families, it must provide proper oversight, and, importantly, it requires the commitment of resources in the right places. Unfortunately, at this time, these issues are not adequately addressed by the reform plan.â€