Child Welfare in Nebraska the Subject of May's Press Club

May 30, 2012

The May Press Club featured Lincoln Senator Kathy Campbell, Chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee and Carolyn Rooker, Executive Director of Voices for Children in Nebraska.

The two talked about the changes the legislature has made dealing with the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children in Nebraska.  Senator Campbell guided the legislation through the Unicameral. Rooker is an advocate on child welfare issues.  She says nationally there are three main things the child welfare system strives to do.

"Really what we are trying to do is achieve safety, permanency and well-being for all of our children.  All of these things are inter-linked.  You can’t look at them separately.  Many states, not just Nebraska, fall short of reaching this goal.  Many legislative bills that have passed this last session will help us start looking at what it will take to get there.”

Senator Campbell says this year the Nebraska legislature took a close look at the 2½ year experiment with privatization of child welfare in the state.

"I believe that two major factors drove this initiative from the beginning.  Why did we get into the initiative?  One was the high numbers that Nebraska has had over the course of years for out of home placement for children, one of the highest in the nation.  And number two, that there is a sense that the private sector could do it better with more flexibility and adaptability.”

Campbell says that experiment resulted in a committee to investigate the issues across the child welfare system.  On December 15th of last year, the committee released a report with 18 recommendations that ultimately resulted in 5 bills.  Campbell says all were signed by the Governor and none received “no” votes. 

The complete presentation will air on Monday, June 18th at Noon on KIOS.