Nebraska partners with a national effort to improve child welfare

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — According to Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the U.S. Children’s BureauCasey Family Programsthe Annie E. Casey Foundation and Prevent Child Abuse America® are partnering to launch a national effort to “prove it is possible to fundamentally rethink child welfare by creating the conditions for strong, thriving families where children are free from harm.”

They say it is a first-of-its-kind effort. The Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Well-Being initiative will work across the public, private and philanthropic sectors to assist jurisdictions in developing more equitable systems that benefit children and families and break intergenerational cycles of trauma and poverty.

“Having invested heavily in elevating the voices of parents and youth with lived experience in child welfare, we now have not only the opportunity but the obligation to act on what they’ve told us they need to stay strong and healthy,” says Jerry Milner, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Administration of Children and Families. “Our four organizations are uniquely prepared and driven to do just that, by transforming child welfare into a child and family well-being system.”

Thriving Families will help some jurisdictions move from traditional child protection systems to systems designed to proactively support child and family well-being, preventing child maltreatment and unnecessary family separation.

This multiyear commitment will provide resources and support from the four partners and another relevant child and family-serving federal organizations to create more equitable and humane child and family well-being systems.

The initiative will be composed of three tiers of action:

  • Tier One — Select jurisdictions will serve as demonstration sites, collaborating with the initiative’s partners for intensive technical support and resources to help realize their goal of creating child and family well-being systems.
  • Tier Two — The effort will partner with jurisdictions to focus on policy and systemic reforms at the state, tribal or territorial level.
  • Tier Three — The effort will share lessons learned to help inform and inspire other jurisdictions in launching their own journeys in building child well-being systems.

Tier One work will soon begin in California/LA County, Colorado, Nebraska and South Carolina. The effort is working to identify and invite Tier Two jurisdictions.

The challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic have underscored the urgency to create such systems.

“Families are our greatest asset in ensuring that all children are safe and have what they need to thrive and succeed — especially now, during the coronavirus crisis,” said Dr. Melissa T. Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “This extraordinary moment provides an opportunity to shift the narrative from child welfare to child well-being. We must leverage this new way of thinking to develop and deliver effective and impactful community-based resources that assist families in ways which strengthen and help keep them together.”

Work will focus on creating and enhancing networks of community-based supports and aligning government resources to provide a full prevention continuum that strengthens community protective factors and parental protective capacities and mitigate associated risk factors.

“Now is a time to reimagine how we as a collective of caring and supportive adults — child welfare practitioners, parents, children and older youth, advocates and community partners — can redefine the mission and objectives of child welfare to help ensure all children, Black, Brown and Indigenous families who have been overrepresented in our systems, have the opportunities they need and deserve to thrive,” says Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, vice president of the Center for Systems Innovation at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “This is the moment to urgently build a child and family well-being system that propels families to grow and thrive together on their terms.”

Categories: Nebraska News, US & World