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Advocates slam Nebraska’s proposed child welfare budget cuts

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Child welfare advocates say proposed budget cuts that would eliminate some state contracts with agencies that support foster families will put Nebraska’s most vulnerable children at risk.

They said Tuesday that Gov. Pete Ricketts’ plans to reduce funding and end contracts with outside agencies and shift responsibility to state caseworkers is a step backward. The governor’s proposal calls for adding 14 new Department of Health and Human Services caseworkers to handle additional cases.

The state’s independent child welfare watchdog’s 2016 report states DHHS caseworkers already have higher caseloads than required by state and federal law.

Ricketts also would eliminate a program that provides post-adoption services to help families stay together, but Appropriations Committee members are keeping the program in the budget they expect to send to the full Legislature soon.

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