(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, for all cases in which a court has awarded a juvenile to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services according to subsection (1) of section 43-285 and for any noncourt and voluntary cases, the case manager shall be an employee of the department. Such case manager shall be responsible for and shall directly oversee: Case planning; service authorization; investigation of compliance; monitoring and evaluation of the care and services provided to children and families; and decisionmaking regarding the determination of visitation and the care, placement, medical services, psychiatric services, training, and expenditures on behalf of each juvenile under subsection (1) of section 43-285. Such case manager shall be responsible for decisionmaking and direct preparation regarding the proposed plan for the care, placement, services, and permanency of the juvenile filed with the court required under subsection (2) of section 43-285. The health and safety of the juvenile shall be the paramount concern in the proposed plan in accordance with such subsection.
(2) The department may contract with a lead agency for a case management lead agency model pilot project in the department's eastern service area as designated pursuant to section 81-3116. The department shall include in the pilot project the appropriate conditions, performance outcomes, and oversight for the lead agency, including, but not be limited to:
(a) The reporting and survey requirements of lead agencies described in sections 43-4406 and 43-4407;
(b) Departmental monitoring and functional capacities of lead agencies described in section 43-4408;
(c) The key areas of evaluation specified in subsection (3) of section 43-4409;
(d) Compliance and coordination with the strategic child welfare priorities determined by the Nebraska Children's Commission as provided in section 43-4204; and
(e) Assurance of financial accountability and reporting by the lead agency.
(3) A lead agency contracted to provide community-based care for children and families shall:
(a) Have a board of directors of which at least fifty-one percent of the membership is comprised of Nebraska residents who are not employed by the lead agency or by a subcontractor of the lead agency;
(b) Complete a readiness assessment as developed by the Department of Health and Human Services to determine the lead agency's viability. The readiness assessment shall evaluate organizational, operational, and programmatic capabilities and performance, including review of: The strength of the board of directors; compliance and oversight; financial risk management; financial liquidity and performance; infrastructure maintenance; funding sources, including state, federal, and external private funding; and operations, including reporting, staffing, evaluation, training, supervision, contract monitoring, and program performance tracking capabilities;
(c) Have the ability to provide directly or by contract through a local network of providers the services required of a lead agency. A lead agency shall not directly provide more than thirty-five percent of direct services required under the contract; and
(d) Provide accountability for meeting the outcomes and performance standards related to child welfare services established by Nebraska child welfare policy and the federal government.