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Gov. Ricketts, First Lady Shore Celebrate Major Child Welfare Grant, Bring Up Nebraska Successes

OMAHA – Today, Governor Ricketts and First Lady Susanne Shore, along with leaders from Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF), and the community, helped celebrate Bring Up Nebraska’s successes as well as a major child welfare grant.  Bring Up Nebraska is a statewide prevention effort to give local communities the ability to keep life’s challenges from becoming a crisis for vulnerable Nebraska families and children.

The community-based prevention efforts celebrated by Bring Up Nebraska have garnered national attention, which has led to increased funding opportunities for this prevention work.  This includes the recent announcement of a five-year, $2.7 million federal grant to the Douglas County Community Response Collaborative (DCCR), in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.

“We are grateful to President Trump and Secretary Azar for supporting our efforts to improve outcomes in our child welfare system with this grant.”  Their support will help deliver better outcomes for our children and help prevent some kids from entering the child welfare system,” said Governor Ricketts.  “By connecting more people to community-based prevention efforts and bringing partners together to develop new strategies, we can help even more of our kids and families achieve successful outcomes.”

The successes seen by community collaboratives involved in Bring Up Nebraska have also meant a movement towards expanding the effort’s impact from the current 23 counties to a projected 54 counties by 2020.  The way child welfare agencies, nonprofits, and communities work together has become much more collaborative as exemplified by a recent successful initiative in Sarpy County that improved the financial stability of 51 families within a 100-day timeframe.  There has also been an increase in the number of children able to safely remain in their homes.

Commissioner Jerry Milner of the Children’s Bureau, the Office of the Federal Administration for Children & Families, visited Nebraska in April to learn more about our community-based prevention work.  His visit included attending a meeting of the Dakota County Collaborative, where he had this to say about the importance of prevention work: “If we don’t go further upstream in our work with children and families who are at risk, we’re constantly going to be in a situation of trying to pick up the pieces of things that have gone terribly wrong in the lives of children and families.  Through Bring Up Nebraska – and this kind of commitment – we have a real opportunity to help families before things fall apart.  And when we help families stay together and to thrive, we’re helping the entire community.”

“We are excited to receive this funding which will allow Douglas County, in cooperation with our many partners, to further develop our prevention system that reduces referral and entry of children into the child welfare system,” said Mary Balluff, Coordinator for Douglas County Collaborative.  “Douglas County has seen an increase in volume of new referrals to the child abuse hotline and a disproportionate involvement in the child welfare system from certain neighborhoods and population groups.  This funding will allow us to ramp up our efforts in keeping vulnerable families from descending into crisis, which leads to state involvement.”

With the assistance of prevention partners, communities including Dakota County Connections, Douglas County Community Response Collaborative, Families First Partnership (Lincoln County), Fremont Family Coalition (Dodge and Washington Counties), Hall County Community Collaborative (H3C) - (Hall, Howard, Valley, Sherman, Greeley Counties), Lancaster County, Lift Up Sarpy, Norfolk Family Coalition, Panhandle Partnership (Sioux, Dawes, Sheridan, Deuel, Kimball, Cheyenne, Box Butte, Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Garden, and Banner Counties), Zero 2 Eight Collaborative (Platte and Colfax Counties), and York County Health Coalition have created collaborations to:

  • Understand the resources available in their local communities as well as the gaps and overlaps that may exist
  • Develop long-term plans that create a network of partners working together to coordinate services for families in need.
  • Assess their community’s needs, strengths and issues, using the latest strategies, data, and evidence to help make appropriate decisions and implement solutions.

To learn more about community collaborations or join the effort taking place in your community, please visit

Bring Up Nebraska, with Governor Ricketts and First Lady Shore as its champions, is a partnership including the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Children and Family Coalition of Nebraska (CAFCON), DHHS, Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board, NCFF, Administrative Office of Probation, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the community collaboratives.