Social work student stipends advanced

Lawmakers gave first-round approval March 30 to a bill that would establish a stipend program for students who commit to work in the state’s child welfare system.

LB199, introduced by Omaha Sen. Sara Howard, would authorize use of Title IV-E funds to pay for social work student stipends. The state Department of Health and Human Services would develop an application process and determine stipend amounts for eligible students in collaboration with the governing boards of colleges and universities with social work programs.

A Health and Human Services Committee amendment, adopted 29-0, removed a restriction in the bill that would limit the program to public colleges and universities.

Howard said the bill would allow Nebraska to maximize federal funds in order to further professionalize the state’s child welfare workforce, which would improve service provision.

“In the child welfare profession, workers who are properly educated and trained … are most likely to stay,” she said.

The bill advanced to select file on a 29-0 vote.

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