Court Improvement Project Hosts Annual Legislative Overview Webinar

Court Improvement Project Hosts Annual Legislative Overview Webinar

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Court Improvement Project (CIP) held its annual webinar on February 6, 2019, outlining bills related to juvenile justice and child welfare submitted by state senators for the 2019 legislative session. CIP project specialists, Mary Ann Harvey and Mary Pat Coe tracked and identified bills of interest and invited Sarah Helvey, Director, Nebraska Appleseed; Juliet Summers, Policy Coordinator, Voices for Children in Nebraska; Jeanne Brandner, Deputy Administrator, Juvenile Services, Office of Probation; and Lori Harder, Deputy Director, Children and Family Services, to comment on bills of particular interest from each of their professional perspective.

The panel discussed the implications of a number of bills, and went in depth on a few. Jeanne Brandner elaborated on LB 330, introduced by Senator Bolz. LB 330 proposes a couple major changes with a few minor modifications to streamline the role, proper organizational home, and consistency amongst the statutory committees. The changes include:

1. Move the Commission, from the Executive Branch in a non-code agency (the FCRO), to the Legislative Branch under a Legislative division (the Office of Public Counsel).

2. Align the voting members with that of a Legislative Committee; include the role of community stakeholders as advisory, nonvoting members.

3. All statutory committees under the Commission remain, and will have membership composition similar to the Commission, rather than individual representatives stated.

4. Rather than developing a strategic plan for the reform of child welfare, the Commission is tasked with identifying the three to five strategic priorities for research and policy development for the biennium in consultation with the annual report of the FCRO, the OIG and the results of the federal CFSR.

Jeanne Brandner also discussed LB 595 which renames the Dispute Resolution Act the Restorative Justice and Dispute Resolution Act. Restorative justice is explained and added thru out the Act where appropriate; advisory council is increased to 15 members (appointed by Supreme Court); creates position of deputy director and lays out responsibilities.

Lori Harder highlighted LB 328 that addresses state responsibilities regarding the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The Nebraska FFPSA intends to provide services to children who are at risk - in the home or community whenever possible, maximize federal funding, distribute funding equitably across the state, provides services that are best practices, promising, and well-supported implementation of the federal Act. 

Sarah Helvey and Nebraska Appleseed prioritized LB 219 and LB 328.  LB 219, introduced by Senator Wishart, provides for more normalcy for youth in foster care and addresses specifics in the independent living plan for youth in foster care to include information, planning, and assistance to obtain a driver’s license, including a driver’s manual, helping to identify driver’s education courses and resources to attend, and identifying potential means to access a car for such purposes.

Lori Harder highlighted LB 328 that addresses state responsibilities regarding the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The Nebraska FFPSA intends to provide services to children who are at risk - in the home or community whenever possible, maximize federal funding, distribute funding equitably across the state, provides services that are best practices, promising, and well-supported implementation of the federal Act. 

Sarah Helvey and Nebraska Appleseed prioritized LB 219 and LB 328.  LB 219, introduced by Senator Wishart, provides for more normalcy for youth in foster care and addresses specifics in the independent living plan for youth in foster care to include information, planning, and assistance to obtain a driver’s license, including a driver’s manual, helping to identify driver’s education courses and resources to attend, and identifying potential means to access a car for such purposes.

Juliet Summers covered LB231, introduced by Senator Pansing-Brooks, which provides for a Juvenile. Defense fund, changes the provisions relating to legal defense of juveniles, and strengthens the right to counsel for juvenile. Summers also addressed LB354, Pansing-Brooks, which provides for the sealing of juvenile records automatically and “developmentally appropriate language” regarding the sealing of records and how to seal if not done automatically.

 

You can view the recorded webinar and download supporting documents in the comments section here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnAoAoz3iSI

CIP will host the 2019 Legislative Review webinar in June, where presenters will review relevant bills and their status at the end of the legislative session.