Juvenile Division

Purpose

It is the duty of the Juvenile Division to ensure the enforcement of the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the United States of Nebraska, and the laws of the State of Nebraska for the health, safety, security, and welfare of our children and families. The Juvenile Division, comprised of seven full-time attorneys and two support staff, is tasked with accomplishing this mission by reviewing, evaluating, coordinating, diverting, or ultimately filing, when appropriate, cases in the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County.

The Juvenile Division works closely, extensively, and cooperatively with the Court, DHHS, State Probation, law enforcement agencies, schools, and multiple community-based human-servies agnces (eg. CenterPointe, Cedars, Child Guidance Center, Voices of Hope, Region 5 Human Services) in an effort to comprehensively fulfill its fundamental mission of providing complete, reliable, and professional assistance to children and families in the community.

Goals & Objectives

The Lancaster County Attorney Office’s Juvenile Division is responsible for prosecuting child abuse and neglect referrals from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and all law enforcement agencies within our community.  In the pursuit of permanency for abused and neglected children, the Division’s prosecutors may seek the termination of a parent’s rights.  Our prosecutors, with the assistance of the Child Advocacy Center, assemble and manage a number of multidisciplinary teams, including the Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Team, the General Treatment Team, the Non-Court Treatment Team, and the Child Sexual Exploitation Team.  Each of these groups bring a tremendous amount of experience, expertise, and insight into working toward the goal of repairing the harm caused by child abuse/neglect and preventing future harm.


The Juvenile Division also receives referrals from all law enforcement agencies on juveniles under 18 who violate the criminal laws of the State of Nebraska. The Division receives truancy referrals from all schools responsible for educating students in Lancaster County and receives requests from parents and caregivers of children in Lancaster County to petition the Court for assistance with children who are ungovernable or are otherwise experiencing mental health or behavioral issues.  The Division, in collaboration with Lincoln/Lancaster County Human Services Office, provide the statutorily mandated reasonable efforts to refer juveniles and families to community-based resources to address these issues before proceeding with a court intervention.


One area of particular strength in Lancaster County is our juvenile diversion programs. These programs have been developed and expanded to offer our prosecutors the best range of interventions possible to meet the needs of juveniles who have violated the law. While it is our office that has the duty to develop and implement these diversion options for juveniles, we by no means consider these “our” programs. While hundreds of juveniles in our community are being diverted out of the formal juvenile justice system each year as a result of the prosecutorial discretion utilized, these life changing programs are a direct result of our system and community-based partners. Without this partnership between the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office, the Lincoln/Lancaster County Human Services Office, and our community partners we could never have realized the level of success we have experienced over the past few years.


 

LANCASTER COUNTY JUVENILE JUSTICE NEWSLETTER