Ricketts touts benefits of local child and family services

    Gov. Pete Ricketts talks with those attending the launch of a new child welfare initiative   (Office of Governor Pete Ricketts)

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and first lady Suzanne Shore are touting the benefits of local services to keep children out of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

    Ricketts said Monday that the state relies on local groups to connect families to the services they need and prevent children from going into state custody. Child advocates and others gathered at the Capitol to recognize the ongoing efforts.

    Jennifer Skala, a senior vice president at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, says the groups are trying to draw attention to the need for prevention through an initiative dubbed "Bring Up Nebraska."

    Shore says she wants Nebraska's emphasis on local services to become a model for the nation.

    Nebraska had roughly 5,000 children and youths in out-of-home care as of March 31.

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