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Families Matter helps keep them together PDF Print E-mail

By Todd Reckling, Director,
NE Dept. of HHS

Families Matter is changing how families are being served through the child welfare and juvenile services system in Nebraska. Core principlesinclude:
• Children grow best in their own homes.
• Children should be reunified with their family, or moved in a timely manner to a loving, permanent placement.
• Families should get needed services as soon as possible.
Helping children remain at home is one of the outcomes we are focused on achieving. Wherever possible, we want to help more state wards remain at home with their families.
In February of 2010 there were 4,351 state wards in out-of-home care. This year there were 211 fewer children in out-of-home care. We are beginning to make  progress toward our goal.
We’re working with private and public partners to develop better outcomes for children.        For most children, what’s best is having a safe and stable place to grow up.
That is why we are shifting away from group home placements and traditional foster care that takes children out of their homes, in favor of services that help children remain at home or be placed with relatives in family foster care.
In cases where reunification is not in the best interest of a child, we are working to identify those situations much sooner.
We are also serving more children and families through voluntary services, rather than requiring that children becoming wards of the state to access help.
Almost 500 families are receiving services.
In addition, more than 1,500 families are receiving new aftercare services designed to provide support during the year after their case has closed.
The shift to these and other family-centered practices means families have a way to access support as needed, rather than cases remaining active before a judge indefinitely.
I encourage you to learn more about Families Matter online at http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/FamiliesMatter/ to find the latest data on our progress.     
You will find success stories and links to more information on our partners in this effort.
Providing individualized services to children and families requires that we have stronger relationships with service providers, Nebraska judges, and the many advocates who play a critical role in assisting families.
I want to thank our partners for their continued work to improve the safety and welfare of children and youth in Nebraska.
Together, we’re focused on providing Nebraska children with permanent homes and appropriate services to match their needs.