Counties Working To Keep At-Risk Kids Out Of Legal System

MGN Online
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Lincoln, NEB. On any given day some kids are being juggled by different government departments like DHHS and the courts. And, it turns out those government agencies might not be talking to each other as much as they need to on a day-to-day basis. So, members of county governments came together Monday to figure out how to create more of a network to support these kids as they go through the different government systems.

"Typically what we're looking at is a who might be in the child welfare system as having been maltreated and then ends up perhaps a period of time later being arrested. How do the child welfare system and juvenile court system work together to prevent future delinquency and also make sure that child is safe," said Georgetown expert Shay Bilchik.

Bilchik has been around the country trying to help counties help these kids, including Douglas County.

"Douglas County has had very good experience with the model," he said.

So, Monday he came to Lincoln to talk to Lancaster, Dodge and Gage counties about getting the state systems that are seeing these kids to talk to each other more efficiently to figure out how to keep them from showing up again in the juvenile court system.

"This really was a good meeting to support what we've already been doing and then to learn what we need to do next," said Steve Ortmeier, the Chief Deputy Probation Officer for District Six in Fremont.

The goal- to create a game plan for the counties that fits into what they already have going on. Bilchik said the model isn't a cookie cutter.

Right now the counties are just gathering their information. As the year goes forward, Bilchik said plans will become more solid. He added the State is footing the bill for this year-long improvement project, but that it's also saving money in the long run on the costs of these at-risk kids moving in and out of the legal system.