State Faces Funding Loss For Child Care Shortcomings

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Nevada's child welfare agency could lose more than $300,000 in funding for failing to meet national performance standards for foster care, adoption and child protective services, officials said.

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found Nevada falling short in all seven categories of child welfare it reviewed, including the stability of foster care homes where children are placed, timeliness of responding to maltreatment reports and access to mental health and dental care.

No state has passed the federal review, but prior state assessments in Nevada have revealed deficiencies, said Theresa Anderson, deputy administrator with the state Division of Child and Family Services.

"The problem is there's no voice for child welfare," Anderson said, adding that Nevada, like other states across the country, has yet to make child welfare a spending priority.

The state has 90 days to develop an improvement plan and about two years to implement it, Anderson said. Otherwise, the state will risk losing a minimum of $368,955 in federal funds.

The federal report noted the state is good at placing children in foster homes close to their parents or relatives, scheduling hearings for the permanent placement of children within 12 months of entering the system and rigorous licensing and training standards for prospective foster care and adoptive parents.

About 1,700 children in southern Nevada are in foster care, and about 200 are in emergency shelter care in Clark County.

The report did find a lack of services to help children and parents reunite. It also said the state is inconsistent in offering parents visitation or other avenues to strengthen and improve relationships with their children once they have been placed in foster care.