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Gov. Ricketts Thanks Child Welfare Director for Transformational Leadership

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts congratulated the director of the Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for his outstanding service.  CFS Director Matt Wallen submitted his resignation this week.  His last day leading the division that includes Economic Assistance, Child Support Services, Adult and Child Protective Services, and Youth Rehabilitation will be September 8th.

“Director Wallen has done an outstanding job of leading our child welfare agency.  He has brought changes that will truly have a long-lasting, positive impact on Nebraska families,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “His commitment to helping people live better lives is evident in the legacy he leaves behind, including providing more customer-focused, efficient, and effective services for Nebraskans in need.  We wish him well as he takes on his new role.”

Wallen joined DHHS as Chief of Staff in December 2015 and was appointed by Governor Ricketts to serve as CFS Director in August 2017.  He is transitioning out of DHHS to work for a non-profit in Nebraska.

“I greatly appreciate that Director Wallen’s team has maintained ACCESSNebraska call wait times under five minutes for more than 24 consecutive months and has improved the safety, access, and quality of childcare services through programmatic changes,” said Dannette R. Smith, DHHS Chief Executive Officer.  “Under his leadership, Director Wallen’s team has also changed CFS’ focus to primary prevention, improving family engagement, serving children and families in their own homes, and keeping families together when it’s safe to do so.” 

During his time with DHHS, Wallen implemented policies and procedures that significantly improved outcomes for the families CFS touches.  They include reducing the number of children in out-of-home care by 16% and placing nearly 60% of youth removed from their homes with kin—relatives or others with whom they have established relationships.

“The CFS team is well positioned for continued success,” said Director Wallen.  “There are strong leaders at the deputy and administrator levels of the organization and the most professional, dedicated, and compassionate teammates in the central office and throughout Nebraska.  In my more than 20 years of public service, this team is the best I have ever had the privilege to work with.”

Governor Ricketts’ search for the next CFS Director has already begun.