HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SEEK $38 MILLION INCREASE

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is seeking $38 million more for child welfare services in the current fiscal year and $23 million more for the year following. Department officials made the request in a document submitted to the state budget office Thursday morning. In a letter to key state senators, agency CEO Courtney Phillips said the funds “would allow the department to continue to provide services and supports to the children, families and individuals served through the Division of Children and Family Services.” The money sought would amount to a 23 percent increase in state dollars for child welfare. State Sen. John Stinner of Gering, the Appropriations Committee chairman, said agency officials told him that they want to clean up past budgeting and accounting practices in child welfare. “We’ve been consistently under budgeting child welfare,” he said. “They are trying to rectify the situation.” The request now goes to the governor for review and possible inclusion in his budget recommendations to the Legislature in January.