Nebraska Successfully Completes Its Child Welfare Improvement Plan
Child Welfare in Nebraska
The Department of Health and Human Services has reached a major milestone by successfully completing all requirements of its federal child welfare Program Improvement Plan.
"Our employees worked very hard to meet all the requirements. We're serving children and families better, and those improvement will continue," said Scot Adams, director of HHS. "I'm pleased that any penalties that could have been associated with areas that needed improvement have been withdrawn."
Nebraska was successful in reaching its PIP goals for:
- Reducing the recurrence of child abuse and neglect from 7.58 percent to 5.5 percent;
- Increasing the stability of foster home placements from 81.6 percent to 83.6 percent;
- Increasing the percent of finalized adoptions within 24 months of removal from the home from 8.2 percent to 11.1 percent; and
- Increasing placements with relatives by 22 percent over the last three years.
In addition, more children are leaving the system than entering it. The number of state wards reached an all-time high of 7,803 in April 2006, but decreased to 7,148 as of March 5, 2007.
The federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) held on-site reviews of child welfare systems in every state. Nebraska was reviewed in 2002. The reviews focused on the outcomes of safety, permanency and well-being for children and families. No state passed those initial reviews, and each state was required to develop a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) stating how improvements would be made. ACF then monitored a state's performance on a quarterly basis.
"We improved the way we respond to reports of child abuse and neglect and how we involve families in developing case plans," said Todd Reckling, administrator for the HHS Office of Protection and Safety. "In addition, we have a quality assurance system in place to routinely examine the effectiveness of the protection and safety system and promote continuous improvement."
Nebraska's two-year PIP had more than 200 action steps showing exactly how system changes would be made and establishing goals to improve the child welfare system.
In his letter congratulating Nebraska on completing its PIP, Wade F. Horn, assistant secretary for ACF said, "I want to commend the staff who not only facilitated the success of the PIP, but also contributed to the State's progress towards system reform. Through their efforts, Nebraska has improved the outcomes for children and families."