Under the leadership of Chief Justice Michael Heavican, the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative is a multidisciplinary network of local teams that work to improve systems processes. It creates a forum for local child welfare stakeholders to collaborate with each other in their efforts to improve issues in their communities' child welfare court systems as well as communicate with other teams and stakeholders across the state to identify systemic barriers and work on solutions.
Federally funded by the Nebraska Court Improvement Project, the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative is comprised of over 25 local teams across Nebraska, each led by a lead judge. The local teams are guided by the Resource Guidelines published by the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), which sets out best practice standards for the abuse/neglect court process, and by the Initiative priorities, which are selected by the teams at the statewide Chidren's Summits. The current 3-year priorities are:
- Improve service delivery to the family-frontloaded, targeted to the issues and effective.
- Improve our response to older youth in care.
- Expedite quality evaluations and targeted treatment for substance-abusing parents.
Each team selects its own projects and goals based on the needs of its community and court system. With the guidance of the Chief Justice and Project Chair, Initiative staff provide technical assistance to the local groups, distribute data reports, develop resources for the local teams, and work on a statewide basis to address concerns within the child protection court system. The Initiative also holds annual regional conferences, spring lecture series, clerk data training, mental health training and a statewide Children's Summit every three years.