Statewide, caseload compliance was at 80%, down from 92%, a troubling decline that needs to be reversed as high caseloads not only create burnout and turnover, but are directly correlated to poorer outcomes for children and families.
More troubling, the report found that too many youth in the system have attempted or committed suicide, along with ongoing complaints about placing children outside their homes.
Dealing with potentially suicidal youth is difficult for caseworkers, who often don’t know of suicidal tendencies. That makes mental health assessment and counseling critical elements for every child in the system.
A recently developed informational brochure for families, however, clearly outlines the process and expectations, addressing some of the complaints about outside-of-home placements.
In stark contrast to the Department of Correctional Services’ attempt to restrict information and access to its inspector general, the report commended HHS Children and Family Services Director Stephanie Beasley for open and helpful discussions with Carter’s predecessor, Julie Rogers. Those discussions, in Rogers’ words, have “already led to improved policies that benefit children and families in Nebraska.”
By following the recommendations of stopping the YRTC plans, reducing caseloads and finding ways to help suicidal youth, HHS generally can follow Beasley’s lead to the benefit of both the children and families in the system and in Nebraska as a whole.
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