Regional conferences for the Nebraska Supreme Court’s “Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative” teams are scheduled in September to launch an expansion of the Initiative’s focus on the child welfare court system. Under the direction of Chief Justice Mike Heavican, team efforts will now be extended to include juvenile justice. This means that the Initiative will no longer solely focus on child abuse/neglect cases, but will expand to include issues of delinquent children, status offenders and troubled youth so that teams can address issues throughout the entire juvenile system.
The Supreme Court supports over 25 “Through the Eyes of the Child” multidisciplinary teams across Nebraska who meet regularly to address community issues regarding the child welfare court system. Each team is headed by a Lead Judge and a Team Coordinator. Teams are typically comprised of County Attorneys, parents’ attorneys, Guardians ad Litem, Health and Human Services supervisors and caseworkers, facilitators/mediators, CASA, Foster Care Review Board members, therapists, law enforcement, schools, youth and foster parents.
In a preliminary message to teams, Chief Justice Heavican stated, “Your teams are tasked with looking at the entire juvenile system from the moment a baby enters the system on the abuse/neglect side to the discharge of a 19-year-old. This does not mean stopping your work on the abuse/neglect side of the system. As we all know, that work is not finished. Rather, you should look at expanding your focus to include young people who are entering our system because of law violations or juvenile offenses so that your team can look broadly at how your juvenile court system functions from beginning to end.”
Meetings will be held in Scottsbluff, Grand Island, South Sioux City and Omaha.
“The same children who come into our courts as neglected children often end up back in our courts as young people committing delinquent or juvenile offenses. It may start as shoplifting or truancy but will often times progress to assault and robbery. We usually don’t see the youth one time. We see them again and again until we release them into the adult court system. This has to change,” according to Chief Justice Heavican. “Your teams, the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative teams, can be an integral part of that change.”
CONTACT: If you have questions contact Melissa Townsend, Project Coordinator for Through the Eyes of the Child. 402-472-3292.
Times and locations of regional meetings:
September 19 | Scottsbluff
8:00-4:15 | Hampton Inn & Suites | 301 West Highway 26
September 20 | Grand Island
8:15-4:30 | Heartland Event Center | 700 East Stolley Park Road
September 26 | South Sioux City
8:15-4:30 | Marina Inn and Conference Center | 385 East 5th Street
September 27 | Omaha
8:00-4:15 | UNO: Thompson Alumni Center: Bootstrapper Hall | 6705 Dodge Street