Head of DHHS Children, Family Services Steps Down


Matt Wallen
By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

The director of the Division of Children and Family Services at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has submitted his resignation.

Matt Wallen announced his last day would be Sept. 8, according to a news release from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.

“Director Wallen has done an outstanding job of leading our child welfare agency,” Ricketts said. “He has brought changes that will truly have a long-lasting, positive impact on Nebraska families. His commitment to helping people live better lives is evident in the legacy he leaves behind, including providing more customer-
focused, efficient and effective services for Nebraskans in need. We wish him well as he takes on his new role.”

Wallen is departing to work for a Nebraska nonprofit group. He was appointed CFS director in August 2017 after originally coming to DHHS as chief of staff in December 2015.

Wallen was previously the director of constituent service for U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse and a member of Sasse’s campaign. Wallen also previously worked at Union Pacific, the U.S. Department of Transportation and on staff at the U.S. House of Representatives.

During his time with DHHS, Wallen reduced the number of children placed in out-of-home care by 16% and placed nearly 60% of children removed from their homes with relatives or others with whom they had already established relationships.

“I greatly appreciate that Director Wallen’s team has maintained ACCESSNebraska call wait times under five minutes for more than 24 consecutive months and has improved the safety, access and quality of childcare services through programmatic changes,” DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith said. “Under his leadership, Director Wallen’s team has also changed CFS’ focus to primary prevention, improving family engagement, serving children and families in their own homes, and keeping families together when it’s safe to do so.”

The Division of Children and Family Services is responsible for economic assistance, child support services, adult and child protective services and youth rehabilitation, according to a release.

“The CFS team is well positioned for continued success,” Wallen said. “There are strong leaders at the deputy and administrator levels of the organization and the most professional, dedicated and compassionate teammates in the central office and throughout Nebraska. In my more than 20 years of public service, this team is the best I have ever had the privilege to work with.”

The search for the next director of CFS is already underway, according to the Governor’s Office.

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