Annual Report 2012 Telling the whole story.

Telling the whole story.
Annual Report 2012
From the Executive Director
In 2012, we celebrated a
milestone anniversary at Voices
for Children in Nebraska– 25
years of being the voice for
Nebraska’s most vulnerable
children. Over the years, Voices
for Children has secured many,
many policy victories for children
and this past year is no exception.
On page 8, you’ll see some of our
key wins for kids during the 2012
Legislative Session.
One of the reasons we have been so incredibly successful this year is our
stepped-up efforts to collaborate, partner, and engage with advocates,
professionals, and decision makers across the state. We have continued to
let our Kids Count in Nebraska Report guide our decisions around necessary
policy changes. We have worked tirelessly to find new and innovative ways
to engage Nebraskans in awareness and action to make our state better for
all children. Through our almost daily blog posts, use of social media, issue
briefs, infographics, motion graphics, and visualizations we have brought the
stories of children to life better than ever before!
At Voices for Children, we are passionate about fairness for all Nebraska
kids. We have been and always will be the outspoken, independent voice for
children and are committed to “telling the whole story” of Nebraska’s kids
loud and clear when it comes to the challenges they face.
Awareness, action, and change do not happen by accident or in isolation. On
behalf of the staff and board of directors, I want to thank each of you who
have, in your own way, helped us tell the whole story of children in our state
and in our communities. Together, I am sure we can continue to change the
world for the better for all of our children.
Carolyn D. Rooker, MSW
Executive Director
About Voices for Children
Our Mission:
Voices for Children in Nebraska educates and motivates Nebraskans to take action to better
the lives of Nebraska’s vulnerable children in the areas of Health, Education, Safety and
Economic Stability.
Policy victories for kids don’t happen by accident. For 25 years, Voices for Children in
Nebraska has been standing up for the best interests of Nebraska’s kids and working with
lawmakers to craft the best solutions for the problems children face.
With kids at the center of our work, we follow three basic principles:
When a policy is good…
…We will support it
When a policy is harmful…
…We will fight it
When a policy is missing…
…We will create it
All of Voices for Children’s advocacy for kids lies on a strong foundation of
data and research. For 19 years, the cornerstone of this research has been
the annual Kids Count in Nebraska Report. We use the commentary and data
throughout the year to inform the public and lawmakers about the important
issues that impact kids. The 2011 edition was released in January 2012.
The Kids Count in Nebraska Report Commentary focused on early childhood –
the critical years of development from birth through age 8. The Commentary
highlighted how young children fare in terms of health, education, safety, and
economic stability and featured policy solutions that improve outcomes for young
The Kids Count in Nebraska
2011 Report was generously
funded by the
Annie E. Casey Foundation
with additional support
provided by:
Dr. Thomas & Jane
When we see a need for additional information that
isn’t contained in the Kids Count in Nebraska Report, we produce a special Issue Brief. In 2012, we
produced an Issue Brief on Children’s Behavioral
Health, building upon the data and research contained in the Kids Count 2010 Commentary. We released the Issue Brief on July 18 at Boys Town with
a panel discussion on racial and ethnic disparities
in behavioral healthcare.
Kids Count
in Nebraska
by the Numbers
97 state-level
indicators of
child well-being
76 pages
65 tables &
In May 2012, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (the
primary sponsor of Kids Count in Nebraska) released a new report on kinship care, Stepping
Up for Kids: What Government and Communities
Should Do to Support Kinship Families. Voices for
Children helped highlight the release of the report
and Nebraska-specific data at a panel discussion
with local stakeholders.
32 county
5 impact &
policy boxes
Conferences, Panels, and Guest Speakers
Conferences and panel conversations help elevate the level of conversation on key
issues related to child well-being. Panels, like those on kinship care and behavioral
health featured on page 5, were held around a particular report or issue brief.
On occasion, Voices for Children brings in national experts to share data and
research with community leaders and lawmakers. In 2012, we brought in Dr. Bryan
Williams of Emory University to inform the debate around prenatal care with data
from his research on the connection between pre-term and low birthweight births
and educational outcomes. Dr. Williams’ presentations helped make the case for the
eventual restoration of prenatal care coverage.
Dr. Williams presents his research at a Town Hall event cosponsored by Voices for Children and Building Bright Futures.
In December 2012, we hosted a Juvenile Justice Summit, bringing national and local
experts together to educate and inform advocates and stakeholders and begin a
larger conversation about the issues facing youth. The Summit helped pave the way
for juvenile justice reform discussions in early 2013.
Voices for Children’s Sarah Forrest (left) leads a panel discusion at
the Juvenile Justice Summit with speakers from across the country
and local Nebraska experts.
As a data-driven organization, we rely on infographics
and data visualizations to help us better understand
an issue or to give the data context.
by the Numbers
122% growth
in Twitter
Website & Social Media
Our website and blog serve as a central repository
of data, information, and analysis on the issues
affecting Nebraska’s children. Moving policy forward
for kids requires a conversation about the issues and
challenges they are facing. The growth in our social
media presence is just one way we know that our
work is having an impact on those conversations. In
2012 our Facebook fans grew by 65% and Twitter
followers grew by 122%.
140 attendees
at panel
233 attendees
at Juvenile
Justice Summit
Want to be a part of the conversation?
Find us on Facebook at
Follow us on Twitter at
The 2012 Legislative Session was known
as the “Session of Children.” Voices for
Children testified on a record number of
bills and more child related bills made
it through the legislative process than in
any year in recent history.
Here are a few highlights of the
legislative session:
The most significant victory for kids in 2012 was the restoration of prenatal
care for all low-income babies. Thanks to the passage of LB 599, Nebraska
will return to its longstanding policy of ensuring that all babies have access
to this essential care under Medicaid.
One unfortunate loss for kids this session was the defeat of LB 1020. This
bill was initially passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the governor. LB
1020 would have provided grant funding for the start-up costs associated
with school-based health centers.
Economic Well-Being
Another important policy change in 2012 was the passage of LB 825, which
restores in-person access to public benefit programs. Many Nebraskans
were struggling to access public benefit programs through the new online
and phone service system. LB 825 will ensure that struggling children and
families who need assistance can have in-person access to these services if
they need it.
Child Welfare
Legislators took promising first steps towards comprehensive reform of
Nebraska’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems in 2012. Bills that
came out of the LR 37 interim study laid a foundation for stakeholder
involvement, strategic planning and evaluation, and greater system stability.
Most importantly, clear caseload standards and the funding to make them a
reality will improve the quality of care we offer to children and families.
Juvenile Justice
The Legislature made important strides
towards keeping youth involved in the
jjuvenile justice system in their homes
and communities, transferring over
$8 million for a pilot project run by the
Office of Probation Administration in
Douglas County, Scottsbluff, and North
Platte (the 4th, 11th, and 12th Judicial
Legislators also rejected a harmful
proposal that would have moved the
Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment
Centers to the Department of
Tax & budget
In 2012, the Legislature passed a
small income tax cut for Nebraska
families. Although Voices for Children
supports reducing the tax burden on
low- and middle-income families, we
opposed this bill because it will result
in a significant increase in the state
budget shortfall. Budget shortfalls have
historically resulted in cuts to services
for children and families, and we believe
that it is irresponsible to shortchange
children’s health and education for a tax
cut that provides a very minimal amount
to most Nebraska families.
by the Numbers
467 bills
171 bills
impacting kids
31 positions
taken on bills
3 interim studies
Spotlight Gala
Voices for Children celebrated our 25th anniversary
at the 2012 Spotlight Gala at the Embassy Suites-La
Vista on September 15. More than 500 event attendees helped raise over $150,000 to support our
research and advocacy.
Mayor Jim Suttle and Former State Senator Deb Suttle
served as honorary chairs. They were recognized for
their longstanding community involvement, especially
Mrs. Suttle’s nearly ten years of service on the board of directors of Voices for Children
in Nebraska.
Awards presented during the “Spotlight Gala” included: Champion for Children Award to
State Senator Kathy Campbell, Individual Award to Tim Barry, Business Award to KETV
Channel 7, Nonprofit Award to RESPECT, Youth Award to Project Everlast and Lifetime
Achievement Award to Betty Cernech.
Brandi Petersen of KETV Channel 7 served as event emcee and Scott Moore led the
live auction as auctioneer. The “Spotlight Gala” committee members were led by Mary
Hunziker, Patti Koraleski, Emily Tonniges, Tessa Gifford, and Wendy Koontz. More than
30 other community volunteers helped plan and organize the event, serving on subcommittees including awards, facilities, public relations, and silent and live auction.
Special thanks to Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Just Good Meat, Quality Beers of Omaha and
Upstream Brewery for their donations.
Photos by Nikki Moseman Photography
The event’s Presenting Sponsor was Lozier. Diamond sponsors of the event included
KETV Channel 7, Alegent Creighton Health and Barnhart Press. Platinum sponsors included Building Bright Futures, Husch Blackwell Sanders, Omaha Steaks, The Nebraska
Medical Center and Dr. Tom and Jane Tonniges and family.
Honorary Chairs, Mayor Jim and Deb Suttle
Event & Auction Chairs Patti Koraleski, Wendy
Koontz, Tessa Gifford, Emily Tonniges, and
Mary Hunziker
By the numbers
As an independent voice for kids, Voices for Children in Nebraska wouldn’t
exist without the financial contributions of foundations, individuals, and
corporate supporters. A complete list of those donors is available online at
Contributions - 7.5%
Carryover* ...........................
Grant Awards .......................
Special Events .....................
Contributions ........................
Community Giving ................
$ 140,000
$ 223,7500
$ 117,706
$ 30,269
$ 4,244
$ 515,969
Community Giving 1.1%
Events 31.3%
Grant Awards - 59.5%
*In December 2011, Voices for Children received $140,000 in grants for work to be completed in 2012.
Grants are recorded when notification of the grant is received, which does not always match when the
expenses are incurred.
- 11.8%
Awareness .........................
Research ............................
Other/Administrative ........
Fundraising ........................
Advocacy ............................
(Direct lobbying)
$ 196,814
$ 185,236
$ 58,488
$ 43,126
$ 10,703
$ 494,367
Fundraising - 8.7%
Advocacy - 2.1%
Education - 39.8%
Research - 37.5%
7521 Main Street, Suite 103
Ralston, NE 68127
(402) 597-3100 phone
(402) 597-2705 fax
[email protected]
Telling the whole story.
Our Mission:
Voices for Children in Nebraska educates and motivates Nebraskans to take
action to better the lives of Nebraska’s vulnerable children in the areas of
Health, Education, Safety and Economic Stability.
Board of Directors
(as of December 31, 2012)
David Hecker, JD
Jocelyn Joyce
Vice President
Delores “DJ” Clarke
Steve Drucker, CPA
Keith Allen, PhD
Anne Yu Buettner, MA
Judy Greenwald, MSW
David A. Hecker, JD
Tim Hron, MA, LIMHP
Kristen Lembke, CPA
Lloyd Meyer
Steve Mitchell
Eric Nelson, MSE
(as of December 31, 2012)
Carolyn D. Rooker, MSW
Executive Director
Connie Hacker
Accounts Manager
Rachel Boyer
Special Projects Coordinator
Aubrey Mancuso, MSW
Policy Coordinator Health & Economic Well-being
Melissa Breazile
Research Coordinator
Sarah Forrest
Policy Coordinator Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice
Courtnay VanDeVelde
Policy Associate
Jill Westfall
Communications &
Operations Coordinator