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Senator Michaela Cavanaugh Reports

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Child Welfare Bills

I’ve designated Legislative Resolution 29 as my priority. LR 29 passed and will create the Eastern Service Area Child Welfare Contract Special Investigative and Oversight Committee of the Legislature.    The standing committee, Health and Human Services, will work collaboratively with the LR 29 Committee in studying the child welfare contract, the RFP (Request for Proposal) process and contract decision making process. The committees will also study the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Administrative Services with respect to the award, implementation, and oversight of the contract. Findings and recommendations will be issued no later than December 1, 2021.     With allegations of financial mismanagement and poor performance of the services to approximately 2500 children in the eastern service area, I felt this was of utmost importance. The contractor has commented to the Health and Human Services Committee, which I am a member of, that their original application and bid for the $127 Million services contract was fraudulent. The latest CEO of that company used that very word in their report. So, why should the State of Nebraska continue to throw money at the contract in hopes of improving performance? Because until other plans can be made and implemented to take care of the children involved, there is no one else to do it. The decades-long experiment in Nebraska with child welfare privatization has proven over and over that the process is fraught with problems. That is what I hope the special committee can investigate and make recommendations on what direction to take in the future. Children in the eastern service area deserve better. Let’s see if we can get to the root of the problem.  

Another related bill is LB 428. Section 2 of AM 566 requires the Legislature to complete an evaluation of the “pilot program” of privatization of child welfare case management services in the Eastern Service Area by December 31, 2021. The bill would authorize the Legislature to hire a consultant to assist in completing the evaluation. LB 428 is currently on Select File, or the second round of debate. It is a Health and Human Services Committee bill that is very likely to pass. 

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