Omnibus child welfare bill approved

Senators passed an omnibus child welfare measure April 13.

Sen. John Arch
Sen. John Arch

LB1173, introduced by the Health and Human Services Committee, creates a work group to find ways to improve the state’s child welfare system.

The group will include the directors of relevant divisions of the state Department of Health and Human Services, the state court administrator, the commissioner of education and representatives of each of the state’s federally recognized Indian tribes. It will seek input from individuals with experience within the child welfare system, providers, law enforcement, county attorneys and others.

Among other tasks, the work group must develop a practice and finance model for the state’s child welfare system, including service delivery, engagement strategies for increased community involvement across different branches of government and state agencies, as well as accountability, data collection and outcome monitoring strategies.

The group will submit its model framework to the Health and Human Services Committee by Dec. 1, 2023, and will terminate Dec. 31, 2023.

LB1173 also includes provisions of four other bills:
• LB491, introduced by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, which removes 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 requires 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;
• LB854, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jen Day, which requires 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 staff member; and
• LB932, introduced by Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, which requires DHHS to immediately 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. It also requires DHHS to provide documentation of the receipt, use and conservation of any Social Security benefits received within 30 days.

LB1173 passed 46-0 and took effect immediately.

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