LINCOLN — Nebraska lawmakers have decided to continue watching over programs for troubled children that were created in the wake of the state's safe haven crisis.
State senators approved a resolution Tuesday to extend the life of the Children's Behavioral Health Oversight Committee through the end of this year. The committee was established in 2009 as part of the Legislature's response to problems exposed by the state's former safe haven law.
Before an age limit was added to the law, parents and guardians dropped off more than 30 children — most of them troubled teenagers or preteens — at hospitals in Nebraska. Those cases brought to light the struggles of families dealing with children who have mental, emotional and behavioral problems.
State Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, the Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman, said the programs have been successful in helping thousands of Nebraska families.
But she also said “much more needs to be done” to meet the needs of Nebraska children and families.
Campbell said the goal is to eventually have the Nebraska Children's Commission, which was created last year to chart a direction for the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, take on the oversight committee's work.
Along with setting up the committee, the 2009 legislation:
»Created a statewide crisis hot line.
»Started a program to help families navigate the behavioral health system.
»Started a program to help adoptive parents and guardians of former foster children.
»Increased funding for children's behavioral health services.
»Supported new training programs for behavioral health professionals.
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