State works on emergency agreement for child welfare services in Omaha area

Source: JoAnne Young, Lincoln Journal Star, May 6, 2017

Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Merv Riepe announced to state senators last week that child welfare services in the Omaha and Sarpy County area could be in jeopardy. The state withdrew its intention to award a five-year, $70 million-a-year contract to Nebraska Families Collaborative on Thursday and rejected all bids after an opposing bidder filed a challenge to the bid award. The lack of a contract could lead to a gap in services for vulnerable children and families beginning in July, Riepe said. The department is attempting to negotiate a one-year emergency contract with Nebraska Families Collaborative, and then to restart the bidding process, he said. …


Nebraska HHS official recommends extending child welfare contract for another year
Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, March 18, 2015

A top state official is recommending that Nebraska continue contracting out management of Omaha-area child welfare cases for another year. In a letter to lawmakers, Tony Green, acting children and family services director for the Department of Health and Human Services, said a contract extension would allow time to choose the best course of action for the future. Green said he would start negotiating the extension on April 1, unless the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee objects….The state’s contract with the Nebraska Families Collaborative, an Omaha-based nonprofit, expires June 30. It was originally signed in 2009 and has been extended once already for one year. The contract this year is worth up to $59.5 million….

Nebraska privatization of child welfare hasn’t produced ‘any measurable benefit,’ new study finds
Source: Martha Stoddard,, February 6, 2015

Nebraska’s five-year experiment with privatizing child welfare has not produced “any measurable benefit” for the state, according to a study report released Thursday. The study compared results achieved by state child welfare workers and by the Nebraska Families Collaborative, the private agency that manages child welfare cases in the Omaha area. It found no cost savings and no significant difference — either positive or negative — in outcomes for children and families….. They offered three options — staying the course with the private contractor, returning all case management responsibilities to the state or revamping the roles of the state and the collaborative to achieve real reform. ….

Consultants list options for continued privatization of child welfare
Source: JoAnne Young, Lincoln Journal Star, February 6, 2015

A consultant that evaluated privatization of a failing Nebraska child welfare system has concluded the reform effort is still not “experiencing any measurable benefits.” Hornby Zeller Associates’ evaluation focused on the one remaining private contractor, a pilot project in the Omaha area in which Nebraska Families Collaborative provides child welfare services and case management. The evaluation was authorized by a bill (LB660) passed in 2014, introduced by Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, chairman of the Legislature’s Executive Board. It cost about $30,000 to do the study, Krist said….

An Assessment of Child Welfare Privatization in Nebraska – Final Report
Source: Hornby Zeller Associates, Inc., December 2014

The recent history of child welfare reform in Nebraska, leading to the current study of privatization, can be viewed in four phases. The first represents the period of 2002 to 2007 when various efforts both internal and external to the state agency responsible for child welfare were undertaken, largely in response to shortcomings found in the first federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). The second was the period from 2007 to 2009 when the state agency began growing the array of services available to families and giving the providers of these services a more expansive role. The third, from 2009 to 2010, saw the State contracting large portions of services to “lead agencies” who would be responsible for expanding the service array through sub – contracts and paying for the services with a predetermined lump sum rate regardless of the number needing service or their presenting problems. The fourth, from 2011 to the present, represented the transfer of both case management and service delivery functions to the remaining lead agencies in the largest service areas only, using both a fixed monthly rate and a daily rate based on the number of children and families served. The history is important because it places this entire study in a context. Child welfare privatization in Nebraska is the result of an evolution, not a revolution. The challenge in evaluating an evolved service model is that few agree on what it should look like or what it should achieve. By legislation, the evaluation of the pilot project is to include a comparison of the performance of case management functions by Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC) in the Eastern Service Area with that of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in the remainder of the State; an analysis of whether case management should be a duty of the DHHS or performed by a private entity pursuant to a contract with the Department and whether the cost is reasonable, given the outcomes and cost of privatization; and an update to the information and data from the 2012 Assessment of Child Welfare Services in Nebraska report. …..

Child welfare money owed to feds reduced to $15M
Source: Grant Schulte, Associated Press, May 19, 2014

State officials have reduced the amount that Nebraska owes the federal government for child welfare services that weren’t properly documented, but could still end up paying $15 million. A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Monday that the agency has successfully documented $7 million of the $22 million in federal aid that was distributed to private groups for foster care and other child welfare services. Federal officials called for reimbursement in January after noting that Nebraska failed to properly track payments made as part of its troubled effort to privatize child welfare services….

State auditor: Nebraska has 30 days to repay nearly $22 million after child welfare experiment blunders
Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, January 22, 2014

Federal officials are demanding Nebraska repay nearly $22 million because of errors made during the state’s experiment with privatizing child welfare. State Auditor Mike Foley released letters Wednesday from the federal Administration for Children and Families, in which federal officials said the state has 30 days to start repayment or face penalties. In the letters, the officials said Nebraska did not properly account for federal foster care dollars during the two fiscal years ending June 30, 2012. Foley said the federal officials concurred with findings made in an audit by his office. The issue dates back to the contracts that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services signed with private child welfare agencies in November 2009. …

State Auditor Mike Foley Comments on Latest Debacle at the Nebraska DHHS
Source: 10/11 News, January 23, 2014

State Auditor Mike Foley announced Wednesday that the Federal government has notified Nebraska State government officials that the state has 30 days to repay nearly $22 million in misspent federal monies that came to light after state auditors reviewed Nebraska’s failed effort to privatize child welfare services. If Nebraska does not make the immediate repayment, the state will be subject to annual interest expenses of over 10 percent. In short, the two federal determination letters received by the State Auditor Wednesday show that the federal government concurs with audit findings previously released by the auditor’s office. The findings relate to how the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services bungled its child welfare reform effort. …

Report: Child welfare privatization went too fast

Source: Associated Press, December 5, 2012

Nebraska’s effort to privatize child welfare services wasn’t necessarily bad, but it went too fast and forced private organizations to focus more on their own survival than helping children, according to a new report.

Foster care still reeling from privatization
Source: Martha Stoddard,Omaha World-Herald, December 2, 2012

Nebraska’s child welfare system is still suffering from the instability caused by the state’s privatization experiment, according to a report released Friday. The Foster Care Review Office’s annual report on children in out-of-home care found concerning levels of caseworker turnover, missing documentation and a lack of complete case plans during 2011 and the first half of this year. All three problems worsened after the state attempted to turn over major responsibilities for managing child welfare and juvenile justice cases to private contractors.

Privatization fails: Nebraska tries again to reform child welfare
Source: Kevin O’Hanlon, Public Integrity, August 21, 2012

Foster parent Jenae VanEvery got a call around midnight one day in September 2011 asking if she could take in two sisters — ages 2 and 3 — who had been found living in filth and squalor by Lincoln, Neb. police. The children were in the custody of the non-profit group KVC, one of the private contractors the state of Nebraska had hired after deciding in 2009 to privatize its child welfare system. VanEvery agreed but said she could not pick up the children until the next afternoon….

Study: Stick with welfare privatization
Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, February 9, 2012

Taking Steps Towards Better Child Welfare Programs In Nebraska
Source: Lisa Snell, Platte Institute, February 2012

Child welfare reform lacked transparency and leadership, legislative audit says
Source: JoAnne Young, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2011

State child welfare officials jumped into privatization too quickly without analyzing costs and developing goals and timetables, the Legislature’s Performance Audit Committee reported Friday.

2011 DHHS Privatization of Child Welfare and Juvenile Services
Source: Martha Carter, Clarence Mabin, Dana McNeil, Stephanie Meese, Performance Audit Committee Nebraska Legislature, Committee Report, Vol. 17, No. 1, November 2011

Nebraska audit blasts child welfare services
Source: Grant Schulte, Associated Press, September 7, 2011

Nebraska’s effort to privatize child welfare services increased costs by 27 percent in a two-year period and led to millions of dollars in overpayments to a provider that has since gone out of business, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

End to privatization urged
Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, September 8, 2011

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