One phone call can now connect Nebraska families to the help they need when dealing with their children’s behavioral health problems. The Nebraska Family Helpline at (888) 866-8660 makes it easier for families to obtain assistance by providing a single contact point 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained Helpline operators screen calls to assess immediate safety needs, identify the potential level of a behavioral health crisis, make recommendations or referrals to appropriate resources, and help callers connect to emergency resources or providers. The Helpline is supervised by licensed behavioral health professionals.
Family Helpline operators also can connect eligible families to the Family Navigator Service. This service helps families move through Nebraska’s child- and family- care system more efficiently to get the assistance they need. Available within 24 to 72 hours after a Helpline referral, Family Navigator helps families identify existing community-based services and provides support from people who have had personal experience in the system.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is contracting with Boys Town to provide both programs. This arrangement was a logical choice due to Boys Town’s experience in operating its own National Hotline, which has handled more than 8 million calls from children, parents and others since its inception in 1989. The structure, physical location, technology systems (telephone, caller database and referral database), policies and procedures, and staff expertise served as a foundation for development of the Helpline.
Boys Town is working in partnership with the Healthy Families Project, NAMI Nebraska and the Nebraska Family Support Network. This partnership identifies and enrolls available services in the state into the Helpline database. Members of these three groups serve as “Family Navigators,” helping families move through behavioral health systems and identifying other appropriate resources available in their communities. This unique combination of family-serving agencies with experience in the behavioral health care system at the national, state and local levels will support and strengthen the system of care and services for youth and their families in Nebraska.
The state of Nebraska developed the Nebraska Family Helpline and Family Navigator Service as a result of Nebraska’s Legislative Bill 603. Passed in 2009, LB 603 focuses on improving access to behavioral health and other services for children and teens. The need for such services came to light after parents and guardians dropped off more than 30 children under Nebraska’s safe haven law before an age limit was added in late 2008. Most of those left off were teens or preteens with mental, emotional and behavioral problems. Many of the parents said they did not know where to turn for help. The Helpline is designed to give such families easier access to necessary services.
About Healthy Families Project (HFP)
The Healthy Families Project’s mission is to support families with youth who have behavior, emotional or substance abuse issues, or are in or at risk of involvement in the Child Welfare System. HFP was developed by family members who have experienced similar situations and have felt a lack of support and understanding.
About NAMI Nebraska
NAMI Nebraska is a nonprofit, grassroots organization dedicated to education, support and advocacy for anyone whose life has been touched by mental illness. It helps unite parents, spouses, siblings, friends and people who have a mental illness with mental health professionals to fight for improved treatment, a better quality of life and recovery.
About the Nebraska Family Support Network (NFSN)
The mission of NFSN is to empower Nebraska children and families that are affected by mental, emotional or behavioral health issues through peer mentoring, education and advocacy, to create brighter futures.
About Boys Town
Boys Town has been carrying out its Mission of saving children and healing families for more than 92 years. The nonsectarian, nonprofit organization offers a wide variety of child and family services and programs through its Integrated Continuum of Care. More than 50,000 boys and girls across the country receive direct care from Boys Town annually. In 2008, more than 400,000 people nationwide were impacted through Boys Town programs and services, which include the toll-free Boys Town National Hotline (800-448-3000).
Besides the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska, the organization’s National Headquarters and largest treatment facility, Boys Town has sites in 10 other states that bring hope and healing to troubled children and families.
The Nebraska Family Helpline and Family Navigator Service are the most recent products of a collaborative effort involving the state of Nebraska and Boys Town to improve access to and the effectiveness of the child- and family-care system. “Boys Town’s number one priority is helping families and kids,” said Father Steven Boes, Boys Town President and National Executive Director. “The Nebraska Family Helpline and Family Navigator services give families that are struggling to meet their children’s behavioral health needs an opportunity to get the right assistance at the right time.”
What services does the Nebraska Family Helpline offer?
- Reduce the crisis situation
- Identify immediate safety concerns
- Screen for immediate safety needs and appropriate strategies
- Assist in connecting with emergency resources
- Provide recommendations and referrals to appropriate services
- Make referrals to Family Navigator or Post Adoption/Guardianship Services
What is the Family Navigator Service?
Family Navigator is a time-limited service that involves approximately eight hours of contact over a 45- to 60-day between family members who are seeking assistance and Family Navigator workers. These workers help youth and families “navigate” the current community-based behavioral health system so they understand their options. This service is designed to help youth and families make informed decisions, provide information and support, and promote productive relationships between youth, family members and selected professionals. Family Navigator services are provided by Healthy Families Project, NAMI Nebraska and Nebraska Support Network.
Who is eligible for Helpline and Family Navigator services?
Eligible families include those whose members are Nebraska residents and who have a child (or children) under the age of 19 who is experiencing problems with behavioral, emotional or substance abuse issues.
Frequently Asked Questions