DHHS Highlights Newsletter: Volume 2 Issue 1

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Thursday, January 15, 2015 | Vol. 2, No. 1

DHHS’ Highlights is published by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for those interested in the latest information on health and human services issues. Please subscribe to or share the newsletter by clicking on the "Share" button.

Dr. Joseph Acierno to Serve as Acting DHHS CEO


Dr. Joseph Acierno, MD, JD, chief medical officer and director of the Division of Public Health, is the acting DHHS CEO.

In mid-December then Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts announced that Acierno will serve as acting CEO until a replacement is named following a nationwide job search.

“His willingness to serve as interim CEO will ensure the department has a steady hand to guide it while my administration focuses on finding a transformational CEO to lead the agency,” Ricketts said in a statement.

Pictured: Dr. Joseph Acierno, acting DHHS CEO

Directors, Acting Directors of DHHS Divisions Announced

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently announced that Dr. Joe Acierno will continue as director of the Division of Public Health and chief medical officer, and John Hilgert will continue as director of the Division of Veterans’ Homes.

Acting directors include Jodi Fenner for the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Sheri Dawson for the Division of Behavioral Health, Tony Green for the Division of Children and Family Services, and Dr. Joseph Acierno who will also serve as the acting director of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care.

The acting directors will assume these duties temporarily until new directors are appointed.

104th Legislature, 1st Session Begins; Track DHHS Involvement on Our Website


The 104th Legislature, 1st Session kicked off on Wednesday, January 7.

At 90 days, this will be what is known as a “long” legislative session compared with the 60-day legislative sessions held in even-numbered years.

During each legislative session, DHHS employees review legislation that might impact our programs and services, and provide testimony and letters on select bills during the legislature’s public hearing process.

Copies of DHHS testimony and letters are available on the Legislation page of our website.

More information on the legislative process is available on the official website of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

Division of Children and Family Services Announces State Ward Education Plan

DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) recently partnered with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) on a five-year plan to better address the educational needs of state wards.

The plan addresses educational issues that affect state wards: education stability, education advocacy, prompt enrollment in school and expedited transfer of records.

The need for the 2015-2019 plan was reinforced by the results of research commissioned by DHHS and conducted by NDE that found that state wards have a lower graduation rate than non-state ward students.

The 2015-2019 Education Operations Plan and the Nebraska State Ward Statistical Snapshot Project are available on the DHHS website.

Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home to Receive Federal Funds


Nebraska was recently notified that the new Central Nebraska Veterans' Home in Kearney will receive federal funding.

“We expected to receive funding in this round and appreciate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ recognition that our veterans deserve a new home," said John Hilgert, director of DHHS’ Division of Veterans’ Homes

Hilgert said the USDVA has more than $105 million in available funds for approved priority projects, which includes Nebraska.  Nebraska will receive partial funding this year with additional funds allotted in future years.

“I know I speak for every Nebraskan when I say how very proud we are of our military personnel and our veterans; they are our heroes,” said Hilgert. “This is for them, and I look forward to each and every milestone until the new Veterans’ Home is completed.” 

Pictured: John Hilgert, director of DHHS' Division of Veterans' Homes