A bill would require Children and Family Services of the Department of Health and Human Services to immediately notify the Division of Public Health, also within DHHS, of situations of alleged child abuse or neglect by a child care staff member.
A second piece of legislation is a resolution calling for a study into the matter.
Sen. Jen Day, who represents parts of Sarpy County, including La Vista, introduced the measures.
“It didn’t seem like parents were being kept in the loop on what was going on with their kids,” Day said. “Not just from Rosewood Academy’s perspective, but also from the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Learn more: Nebraska daycare owner accused of hurting child gets year of probation; victim’s mother speaks out
Day held a roundtable with parents of children who attended Rosewood Academy and industry advocates.
“One of the major problems that we heard from parents was that the allegations were not being communicated between the different entities underneath the Department of Health and Human Services,” she said. “I think in practice, they’re supposed to communicate with each other. But we had dozens of families that were saying that that was not the case.”
Learn more: ‘Why are you sitting on it?’ Former Rosewood employee says DHHS took too long to report child abuse
In a statement, a DHHS spokesperson said the department’s procedures already mandate the notification the legislation calls for through specific “Standard Work Instructions.”
“CFS takes very seriously every allegation of abuse or neglect,” the spokesperson wrote. “The safety of children and the well-being of families is our highest priority. CFS welcomes a review of processes in addition to internal reviews with the goal of continuous quality improvement. CFS team members continue to partner with families and key stakeholders like the legislature to focus on meeting the needs of children and families across Nebraska.”
Learn more: Rosewood Academy parent rattled by daycare investigation, closing; wonders if she could’ve done more
Matt Turner, the father of a child who attended Rosewood, said parents need to understand that investigative actions and information on Nebraska child care centers are available online. Many parents were unaware their child was the subject of an incident until much later, Turner said.
For more on this story, watch the video above.
The full statement from DHHS is below:
“Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-726 authorizes Children and Family Services to share information regarding abuse/neglect in a child care facility with Public Health Licensure. There are also Standard Work Instructions such as SWI 2.1.1 and SWI 3.6 that mandate CFS staff notify Public Health Licensure of allegations of abuse or neglect. When CFS is notified of an instance of abuse or neglect in a child care facility that information is shared with Public Health Licensure and the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
Reports sent to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline are received via an Automated Call Distribution (ACD) system. The hotline staff will complete a phone inquiry to gather the details regarding the family and the concerns and initiate documentation of the report of abuse and neglect into NFOCUS, Nebraska’s child welfare information data system, at the time of the call. Hotline staff may need to make collateral calls to gather additional information to make a screening or priority decision.
Additionally, the hotline staff will contact law enforcement immediately by phone when a report involves a child in imminent danger.
After the hotline worker gathers information from the caller or any collateral sources, a records check is completed and screening and priority decision is made. All documentation of actions, contacts and decisions made are documented in an intake by the hotline worker into the NFOCUS system. Lastly, all reports to the hotline that involve child abuse and neglect concerns are shared with the local law enforcement, regardless of DHHS intervention.
CFS takes very seriously every allegation of abuse or neglect. The safety of children and the well-being of families is our highest priority. CFS welcomes a review of processes in addition to internal reviews with the goal of continuous quality improvement. CFS team members continue to partner with families and key stakeholders like the legislature to focus on meeting the needs of children and families across Nebraska.”
Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.
Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox