Nebraska Chief Justice Mike Heavican tells lawmakers the courts will help where they can in reforming the state’s troubled child welfare system.
Heavican, in the State of the Judiciary address to the Unicameral, says a working group has been convened to improve foster care.
“This group continues to search for practical ways to improve service delivery in child welfare cases in our juvenile and county courts,” Heavican says. “On the local level, we work to improve the court system for abused and neglected children by utilizing the court’s Through the Eyes of the Child initiative.”
Heavican says he read with interest the report on the state child welfare system released by the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
Heavican says no child welfare efforts can be discussed without addressing truancy. He says state law approved a year ago has helped as has local changes.
Pilot projects have begun to improve court efficiency through technology, according to Heavican. He says Anne Pain of McCook began a pilot program in the 11th judicial district which allows one employee to manage the collection of fines from all courts in a 17-county area.
“It is hoped that these projects can serve as models for rural courts and allow us to preserve jobs in communities with fewer needs while easing the burden of courts which have greater demands on staff time,” Heavican says.
Heavican says the National Center for State Courts is working with the Supreme Court to better use technology to improve efficiency.