Top DHHS official resigns
September 16th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – Late Friday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that Todd Reckling was resigning. Reckling has been the director of the Division of Children and Family Services since April, 2009. That division is in charge of the privatization of child welfare, and Reckling’s resignation comes on the heels of a scathing report by State Auditor Mike Foley alleging mismanagement of funds, lack of documentation and a refusal to cooperate with the audit process.
However, a spokesperson for DHHS told NET News that Reckling was not pressured by Gov. Dave Heinemann or DHHS CEO Kerry Winterer to resign; instead, the spokesperson said, Reckling is resigning for personal health reasons. The spokesperson said the department will begin searching for a replacement immediately.
State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist from Omaha has been a vocal critic of the reform process. He told NET News that Todd Reckling has been a great advocate for children in state, and said the department will be losing someone with a lot of expertise.
Sen. Nordquist said he trusts the state’s claim that Reckling’s resignation has nothing to do with the privatization problems, but adds that they won’t go away with one person.
“The responsibility for accountability goes beyond Director Reckling,” he said. “Really, it goes up to Winterer and Gov. Heinemann.”
The child welfare reform process has been plagued by setbacks since private contractors first took over in 2009. Thursday, Gov. Heinemann responded to the auditor’s report, saying, he expects better results and expects them soon.
Gov. Heineman, Reckling and Winterer were unavailable for comment.