LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION’S SUBCOMMITTEE
TO STUDY THE INTEGRATION
OF STATE AND LOCAL CHILD WELFARE SYSTEMS IN NEVADA
(A.C.R. 53, File No. 141, Statutes of Nevada 1999)
The subcommittee was created by the Legislative Commission to examine the current separation of child welfare functions between Nevada's urban counties (Clark and Washoe Counties) and the Division of Child and Family Services of Nevada's Department of Human Resources, and to determine the most appropriate manner in which to integrate the State’s child welfare system.
Subcommittee Proceedings and Major Issues
At its first meeting, on October 28, 1999, LCB Research and Fiscal Analysis Division staff and Dr. Thom Reilly, Professor, School of Social Work, University of Nevada, Las Vegas testified regarding the history of Nevada’s child welfare system. A review of the State’s current child welfare system was provided by representatives from: the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), Nevada’s Department of Human Resources; the Department of Youth and Family Services, Clark County; and the Department of Social Services, Washoe County. Additional input on Nevada’s child welfare system was presented by Judge Charles M. McGee of the Second Judicial District Court, Family Division, Washoe County, and Deanne Blazzard, President, Foster Care and Adoption Association of Nevada.
The subcommittee, at its second meeting on December 8, 2000, heard presentations from three national speakers. First, Stephen Christian, Children and Families Program, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), briefly spoke about the work of NCSL in assisting states with tracking and reforming their child welfare programs. Then Paul Vincent, Director of the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, discussed reforms taken by other states and examined the essential components of a good child welfare system. Finally, Norma Harris, Director of the National Child Welfare Leadership Center, spoke about what a model child protective services (CPS) system should look like and made some observations about the CPS systems in Nevada. Perspectives on the state and county child welfare systems were then provided by five social workers from the urban counties and the state.
At the subcommittee’s most recent meeting on February 10, 2000, members were presented with an overview of child and adolescent mental health services and a discussion of how they interface with child welfare by Dr. Christa Peterson, Deputy Administrator, DCFS, and Dr. James Rast, a psychologist and consultant to DCFS with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Judicial perspectives on Nevada’s child welfare system were provided by Frances Doherty, Juvenile Court Master, Washoe County, and Judge Robert E. Gaston, Eight Judicial District Court, Family Division, Clark County. Robert Gagnier, Executive Director of the State of Nevada Employees Association, also spoke. Finally, two foster adolescents addressed the subcommittee.
The next meeting will include discussions on how to improve Nevada’s child welfare system, how to implement such a system, and the fiscal impact of such a reformed system. At its fifth and final meeting, the subcommittee will complete its work and vote on proposed bills to submit to the 2001 Legislature.
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