Gov. Dave Heineman says he hasn’t been completely satisfied with the move to privatize child welfare services in Nebraska, but isn’t prepared to endorse recommendations for change made by a legislative committee.
A 425-page report issued by the Health and Human Services Committee outlines 18 recommendations for changing child welfare services provided by the state Department of Health and Human Services. [Click here for link to report]
Heineman says he’s read the committee’s report.
“I’m not totally happy with the implementation of what’s been occurring at Health and Human Services and we need to continue to get better,” Heineman tells reporters in a conference call, “but I’ve also said I don’t want to return to the failed policies of the past. That’s not the answer either.”
Does Heineman consider the committee’s recommendations a return to the past?
“There are some concerns I have with some recommendations that it looks like we’re taking a step backwards,” according to Heineman.
The legislative committee report follows on the heels of harsh criticism of the move to privatize the services, first made by the state auditor then reinforced by the legislature’s Performance Audit Committee. All have criticized the Department of Health and Human Services for sloppy financial management in making the move toward privatization that has seen the cost of providing the services jump by 27%.
The top recommendation made by the Health and Human Services Committee is to return case management to the state from private contractors. It also recommends creating a Children’s Commission and a new Department of Children’s Services.