Nebraska DHHS halts proposed child care changes

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 12:26 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday said it would suspend proposed changes that would limit the size of licensed daycares.

Many Omaha daycares were upset by the more than 250-page DHHS proposal when it came to light last month, telling 6 News they were blindsided by the rules change and that it would force families who secured their child care services to pay more.

Days later, Gov. Pete Ricketts said that because of those concerns, the state would take another look at those proposed changes.

At the informational meeting last week, many of them told 6 News they had been scrambling to find answers for themselves and struggled to pass along information to their concerned families, some noting their families had alerted them to the changes and creating a situation they called “super embarrassing.”

DHHS on Wednesday cited public comment at its public hearings and forums directly ahead of its decision to delay implementing the changes. No timeline was specifically noted about when they might revisit putting any changes in place, but the release hinted that months would pass before then.

“In the coming months, DHHS will continue to evolve in its understanding of the impact of the pandemic on child care providers and child care availability, capacity and access,” the release states. “DHHS will partner with child care providers to continue to chart our path forward. This will allow DHHS the opportunity to have greater dialogue with the provider community as we work collaboratively to ultimately ensure a collective approach towards a best in class model.

No further details were provided on partnerships or any future public meetings were provided.

“We value child care providers, the children in their care, and those who entrust their children to them,” Nebraska DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith said in the release. “We appreciate this opportunity to strengthen and enhance our child care system here in Nebraska and look forward to improving our systems and developing innovative solutions, especially because of all we experienced and learned in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Reporters John Chapman and Lauren Melendez contributed to this report.

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