Gov. Dave Heineman has high expectations for the newly created Children’s Commission.
Heineman earlier this week appointed the 18 voting members of the Children’s Commission, created as part of the package of bills approved by the legislature this past session to address problems in the state child welfare system. Among the bills approved by the legislature was LB 821, which created the Children’s Commission and the Inspector General position for child welfare.
Heineman told reporters in a conference call this week that he has high expectations for the commission. The commission will work with the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the legislature and the governor’s office to mold a strategic plan for children’s services in Nebraska. It also will suggest how the Division of Children and Family Services should be structured.
Also, Heineman said he hoped commission members consider a question plaguing the system: why do twice as many children enter the system in Nebraska as the national average?
“That just doesn’t seem to make sense in a family-friendly state like ours that twice as many kids would be in our system,” Heineman stated. “Because we really want to help those who need help and are there certain kids being put in the system that could be provided assistance outside of the system? And I think that needs to be addressed, too.”
Heineman emphasized the commission members that state resources are limited. He urged them to make their recommendations with the state fiscal constraints in mind.
Under the law, the Children’s Commission must make periodic reports to the legislature about its progress. It must submit a proposed strategic plan for child welfare services by the 15th of December.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]