Health and Human Services

Omnibus child welfare bill amended, advanced

Senators added provisions to an omnibus child welfare measure before giving it second-round approval March 8.

Sen. John Arch
Sen. John Arch

LB1173, introduced by the Health and Human Services Committee, would create a work group to find ways to improve the state’s child welfare system. It would seek input from individuals with experience within the child welfare system, providers, law enforcement, county attorneys and others.

Among other provisions, the work group would be tasked with developing program goals and finance models for service delivery, engagement strategies for community involvement and increased engagement across different branches of government and state agencies, as well as developing accountability, data collection and outcome monitoring strategies.

Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha offered an amendment on select file to include modified provisions of her LB932. The amendment would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to notify youth in foster care and their guardians ad litem that the state is collecting Social Security benefits on their behalf, beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Hunt said some foster children are unaware that they are receiving such benefits or that the benefits are being used for their care.

The amendment, adopted 29-0, would require DHHS to provide documentation of the receipt, use and conservation of any Social Security benefits received.

LB1173, as amended on general file, also includes provisions of:
• LB491, introduced by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, which would remove DHHS authority to contract with a lead agency for case management in the department’s eastern service area of Douglas and Sarpy counties;
• LB541, introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, which would require the Division of Children and Family Services to implement statewide tiers for a specialized level of care for foster care reimbursement and to partner with the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care to develop a plan for treatment family care services by Oct. 1, 2022, and to implement that plan by Oct. 1, 2023; and
• LB854, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jen Day, which would require the Division of Children and Family Services to immediately notify the Division of Public Health of any reports DHHS receives of alleged out-of-home child abuse or neglect by a child care provider or child care staff member.

Following adoption of the Hunt amendment, senators advanced LB1173 to final reading on a voice vote.

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