The last private contractor left serving as a lead agency for child welfare services in Nebraska will expand its services.
Nebraska Families Collaborative will begin to serve the entire Omaha area, beginning March 1st. The action comes in wake of KVC’s decision to discontinue serving as a lead agency for child welfare services. Nebraska Families Collaborative served three-fourths of the Omaha area and KVC served a fourth. Nebraska Families Collaborative will now serve the entire Omaha area, including all of Douglas and Sarpy Counties.
KVC serves 4,700 children in 19 southeastern and eastern Nebraska counties. It announced it will end serving as a lead agency at the end of the month. KVC will continue to be a provider in about 300 licensed foster homes.
Under the new arrangement with the state, Nebraska Families Collaborative will expand to serve 1,300 more children, bringing the total number of children it will serve to approximately 4,000.
Nebraska Families Collaborative uses a broker model to deliver to children in foster care. Five non-profit agencies in Omaha formed Nebraska Families Collaborative which works on a broker model, using 48 providers in the city to provide services to children who become wards of the state.
Executive Director Dave Newell says he hopes the broker model can serve as a model for the entire state.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Newell tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview. “Nebraska is still ranked approximately 46th in the nation. It’s been ranked 46th in the nation as far as child welfare goes for a very long time. So, we really have a lot of work to do to start bringing improvements to our system.”
Newell says the agency will cling to its mission statement to help children be safe, healthy and in a forever family, either their biological family or, if not, in an adoptive home even as it expands.
“Your focus is not on what’s wrong with an individual or with their family or with the community, but what are those strengths that the child, family or community has and how are you going to build on those strengths to get those kind of outcomes,” according to Newell.
Most, if not all, of those working with KVC in Omaha will switch over to Nebraska Families Collaborative at the beginning of the month.
The remaining cases in southeastern and eastern Omaha, including Lincoln, will be taken over by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which has also been managing cases in the northern, western and central service areas. The state promises a smooth transition when KVC ceases serving as a lead agency.
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Dave Newell of Nebraska Families Collaborative [11:30]