Number of Nebraska State Wards Down Since 2012

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says the number of state wards has fallen more than 25 percent since 2012.

Department officials say the state had 4,498 wards as of Monday. In March 2012, Nebraska had 6,121 state wards in its protection.

Thomas Pristow, the state's director of Children and Family Services, says a new evidence-based safety assessment tool used by case managers has allowed more children to remain at home when they can do so safely.

Pristow says some juvenile offenders have moved to probation as a result of a state law that passed last year. The law shifts the supervision of juvenile offenders in a community from DHHS agencies to the state's probation office. The law also places an emphasis on diversion programs.