Bill would extend, update children’s commission

State law authorizing the Nebraska Children’s Commission would be extended and updated under a bill heard Feb. 19 by the Health and Human Services Committee.

LB1034, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell, would extend the commission through June 30, 2019. The commission currently is scheduled to terminate June 30, 2016.

Campbell said the commission was created in 2012 after serious problems with the child welfare system led the Legislature to restructure the goals of the system and require more oversight and accountability.

The bill also would update the duties of the commission to include youth in the state’s juvenile justice system. Juvenile justice youth were transferred to the state’s judicial branch in 2013, Campbell said, and a change in the law is needed to clarify that the commission provide oversight for those youth.

“It was felt strongly that in the bill to reauthorize the children’s commission we should specifically state that the commission deal with the juvenile justice system,” she said.

The bill would require that no member of the commission have any private financial interest, profit or benefit from any of the commission’s work. It also would require the commission to develop a system of care plan and analyze case management workforce issues.

Beth Baxter, chairperson of the Nebraska Children’s Commission, testified in support of the bill. The commission has identified establishment of a consistent and stable workforce as a top priority, she said.

“These provisions would allow the commission to continue to support the many dedicated people working in child welfare,” Baxter said.

No one testified in opposition to LB1034 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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