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Gov. Ricketts Praises “Mission Driven, High-Quality Services for Nebraskans” Delivered through Third DHHS Business Plan

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970

Leah Bucco-White, DHHS, 402-471-9356


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Praises “Mission Driven, High-Quality Services for Nebraskans” Delivered through Third DHHS Business Plan


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted achievements made over the past year by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as part of its third annual business plan.


“DHHS has proven its ability to deliver services in an effective, efficient, and customer-focused manner through its annual business plan.  This past fiscal year, the team performed at a high level, transitioned to a new CEO, and finished strong under Dannette R. Smith’s leadership,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “The agency successfully carried out its third-annual business plan, accomplishing its mission to help Nebraskans live better lives.”


DHHS touches the lives of countless Nebraskans every day as it serves some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.  Launched during the summer of 2018, the business plan, titled “Mission-Driven, High-Quality Services for Nebraskans,” included 18 priority initiatives.  These initiatives aimed at integrating services, promoting independence, focusing on prevention, leveraging technology, and increasing operating efficiencies and improvements.


DHHS has fully completed 11 of the 18 initiatives due for completion in fiscal year (FY) 2019 and has made substantial progress on the other seven.  Overall, 156 of 173 deliverables—approximately 90%—are complete, including 94% of the deliverables due in FY 2019.  The Department continues to work towards completion of the remaining initiatives. 


“Last year our team set stretch goals that would move the state ahead.  The results of the business plan are the accomplishments of a dedicated team that is driven by the mission of helping people live better lives.  I appreciate the work former CEO Dr. Courtney Phillips started and look forward to building on that foundation to provide the best health and human services possible,” said DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith.


The outcomes achieved demonstrate that the commitment to improve services and processes has resulted in real change for Nebraskans.  Some business plan achievements include:


  • Strides in Children & Family Services: DHHS is focused on keeping families together when safe to do so.  Poverty is a major contributing factor to families becoming involved in the child welfare system and requiring public benefits.  With this knowledge, the Department focused on efforts to stabilize and strengthen families to prevent intergenerational poverty, prevent intergenerational child welfare system involvement, and help households achieve self-sufficiency.


  • Expanding SNAP Next Step: The Department met its goals to expand SNAP Next Step (formerly named SNAP/DOL Reemployment Pilot Program).  The program expanded to Scottsbluff, North Platte, Sidney, and Lexington during the past fiscal year.  It served 150 Nebraskans, helping 50% find higher paying jobs, benefits, and/or improved work hours.


  • Launching Phase II of the Family Focused Case Management Pilot: The program launched in North Platte and Fremont, worked with 183 families, and stabilized 50% of those families to avoid a formal intake into the child welfare system.


  • Enacting Family Action Support Teams (FAST) in six more counties: Teams were formed in Scotts Bluff, Lincoln, Buffalo, Hall, Gage, and Otoe counties to make program benefits more accessible to Nebraskans.


  • Continuing the Transformation of Behavioral Healthcare for Children:  More than 1,000 youth were admitted to services through the Nebraska System of Care (NeSOC) for Children, Youth, and Families initiative during the past fiscal year.  This allowed them access to services which were not available statewide in Nebraska prior to the system of care efforts.  NeSOC connects communities, providers, and citizens together to increase access to services in their homes/communities.  DHHS collaborated with the Nebraska Department of Education, schools, educational service units, and localized systems of care to create the Behavioral Health Resources for Schools resource guide.  The guide serves as a mental health toolkit that identifies local protocols for accessing behavioral health services.


  • Addressing Opioid Misuse: DHHS increased access to clinically appropriate evidence-based practices for prevention, treatment, and recovery of opioid use disorder for citizens.  This initiative involved expanding access to a life-saving drug called Naloxone and providing additional education and training opportunities to service providers.  2,149 Naloxone kits were distributed and 348 providers were trained on the use of Medication-Assisted Treatment.  In partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Attorney General’s Office, DHHS also launched the state’s first addiction medicine fellowship program to train physicians to combat addiction.


  • Implementing Electronic Benefit Cards: DHHS completed statewide eWIC implementation.  eWIC is an electronic benefit card for families served through the Women, Infants, and Children Program.  eWIC replaced paper checks and made the purchase of WIC foods easier for approximately 20,347 participating families. 


  • Redesigning the DHHS Website: One of the main ways Nebraskans interact with DHHS is through its website.  The agency’s last website update was in 2007 and did not provide the functionality website users have come to expect.  The newly upgraded DHHS website is responsive, task-oriented, and streamlined for a better, customer-focused experience.  It can be found at  


DHHS leadership will join the Governor on Monday, August 26 at 10:00 am for a news conference to discuss the accomplishments in the 2018-2019 business plan.  The event will also serve to unveil the Department’s fourth business plan for 2019-2020.


A summary of the results achieved through the FY2019 business plan is available by clicking here.