Nebraska Revised Statute 43-4409

Chapter 43


Evaluation of child welfare system; nationally recognized evaluator; duties; qualification; evaluation; contents; report.

(1) The department shall engage a nationally recognized evaluator to provide an evaluation of the child welfare system.

(2)(a) The evaluator shall:

(i) Be a national entity that can demonstrate direct involvement with public and tribal child welfare agencies, partnerships with national advocacy organizations, think tanks, or technical assistance providers, collaboration with community agencies, and independent research; and

(ii) Be independent of the department and any lead agency or the pilot project, shall not have been involved in a contractual relationship with the department, any lead agency, or the pilot project within the preceding three years, and shall not have served as a consultant to the department, any lead agency, or the pilot project within the preceding three years.

(b) The department shall give consideration to evaluator candidates who have experience in: (i) Outcome measurement, including, but not limited to: Measuring change for organizations, systems, and communities, with an emphasis on organizational assessment, child welfare system evaluation, and complex environmental factors; assessing the quality of child welfare programs and services across the continuum of care, with differential consideration of in-home and foster care populations and advanced research and evaluation methodologies, including qualitative and mixed-method approaches; (ii) use of data, including, but not limited to: Using existing administrative data sets, with an emphasis on longitudinal data analysis; integrating data across multiple systems and interoperability; developing and using data exchange standards; and using continuous quality improvement methods to assist with child welfare policy decisionmaking; (iii) intervention research and evaluation, including, but not limited to: Designing, replicating, and adapting interventions, including the identification of counter factuals; and evaluating programmatic and policy interventions for efficacy, effectiveness, and cost; and (iv) dissemination and implementation research, including, but not limited to: Measuring fidelity; describing and evaluating the effectiveness of implementation processes; effectively disseminating relevant, accessible, and useful findings and results; and measuring the acceptability, adoption, use, and sustainability of evidence-based and evidence-informed practices and programs.

(3) The evaluation shall include the following key areas:

(a) The degree to which privatization of child welfare services in the eastern service area has been successful in improving outcomes for children and parents, including, but not limited to, whether the outcomes are consistent with the objectives of the Families Matter program or the pilot project and whether the cost is reasonable, given the outcomes and cost of privatization;

(b) A review of the readiness and capacity of any lead agency or the pilot project and the department to perform essential child welfare service delivery and administrative management functions according to nationally recognized standards for network management entities, with special focus on case management. The readiness review shall include, but not be limited to, strengths, areas where functional improvement is needed, areas with current duplication and overlap in effort, and areas where coordination needs improvement; and

(c) A complete review of the preceding three years of placements of children in residential treatment settings, by service area and by any lead agency or the pilot project. The review shall include all placements made or paid for by the child welfare system, the Office of Juvenile Services, the State Department of Education, or local education agencies; any lead agency or the pilot project through letters of agreement; and the medical assistance program. The review shall include, but not be limited to: (i) Child variables; (ii) reasons for placement; (iii) the percentage of children denied medicaid-reimbursed services and denied the level of placement originally requested; (iv) with respect to each child in residential treatment setting: (A) If there was a denial of initial placement request, the length and level of each placement subsequent to denial of initial placement request and the status of each child before and immediately after, six months after, and twelve months after placement; (B) funds expended and length of placements; (C) number and level of placements; (D) facility variables; (E) identification of specific services unavailable in the child's community that, if available, could have prevented the need for residential treatment; and (F) percentage of children denied reauthorization requests or subsequent review of initial authorization; (v) identification of child welfare services unavailable in the state that, if available, could prevent out-of-state placements; and (vi) recommendations for improved utilization, gatekeeping, and community-level placement prevention initiatives and an analysis of child welfare services that would be more effective and cost efficient in keeping children safe at home.

(4) The evaluation required pursuant to this section shall be completed and a report issued on or before December 1, 2012, to the Health and Human Services Committee of the Legislature and the Governor.