In a statement, a Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said the department “continues to monitor reunification, adoption and permanency measures in (Douglas and Sarpy Counties), as well as strategize with St. Francis Ministries to continue the focus on improving outcomes.”
The department tracks the measures at issue on COMPASS, a dashboard that shows how each child welfare region, Native American tribe and judicial district performs compared with federal child welfare standards. The dashboard looks at six main measures and 15 contributory factors.
St. Francis failed to meet the federal standard on reunification for all 12 months, continuing the track record of PromiseShip, the Omaha-based previous contractor. Three regions where state workers manage child welfare cases also failed to meet the standard for all or part of the year.
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Unlike those areas, however, St. Francis’ score declined over the course of the year.
Cavanaugh, who has made oversight of Omaha-area child welfare her priority in the Legislature this year, said the performance measures reflect the contractor’s inability to hire and keep staff and to comply with the state law limiting caseloads. Heavy caseloads make it harder for workers to give children and families the attention needed.