State officials say a recent evaluation of three programs prove their worth, though they hope the programs will be used more in the future.
A 30-month evaluation of the Family Helpline, Family Navigator and Right Turn has been completed, concluding that the programs provide valuable services for families struggling with children who have behavioral or emotional problems.
Each program provides a different approach.
State Division of Behavioral Health Director Scot Adams says Family Helpline provides assistance around the clock, giving referrals for on-going care if needed.
“But, so often families and parents just need someone to talk to in the moment and the Nebraska Family Helpline is useful in that regard,” Adams tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The Family Helpline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number is 1-888-866-8660.
Adams notes it is called a helpline, not a hotline and is available to families during a crisis or just as a friendly ear in less stressful times.
The evaluation of the Helpline and the other two programs began in 2010 after the passage of LB 603. It was conducted by Hornby Zeller Associates.
The Helpline took more than 15,000 calls. Operators offered families more than 11,600 referrals to services. While those are good numbers, according to Adams, his division expected calls to top 20,000 during the 30-month period. He expects better publicity about the service to increase the numbers.
While the Helpline has professionals on stand-by, Family Navigator provides peers, rather than professionals, to simply listen and provide guidance.
“You know you’re not going to be judged. You know you’re not going to be psycho-analyzed or that kind of stuff and you’re just looking for a little bit of a helping hand here,” Adams explains.
More than a thousand families used the Family Navigator services and received more than 3,000 referrals to services.
Right Turn provides a more specialized service. Right Turn works exclusively with families who have adopted children or who have received legal guardianship of former wards of the state. The program tries to help families and works to prevent the dissolution of adoptions and guardianships. Right Turn has served 746 children in 391 families and documented over 3,600 service referrals, according to the state, with only two dissolutions.
The Division of Behavioral Health is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which contracts with Boys Town to run the Family Helpline, the Nebraska Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health to operate Family Navigator services and with Lutheran Family Services in conjunction with Nebraska Children’s Home Society operate Right Turn.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]