Community-based Prevention

Click here for a list of Central Navigators throughout the state that can help connect you to resources.

Bring Up Nebraska believes LOCAL communities are best situated and most motivated to understand their own needs and strengths as they relate to 

  • Reducing entry into the child welfare system and other higher end systems of care (behavioral health, juvenile justice, etc.) and
  • Increasing informal and formal community supports for children and families.

Community Collaborations

Community Collaborations
Community Collaborations

Complex issues need collaborative solutions. Communities bring all the critical players to the collaboration—service providers, educators, health care professionals, law enforcement, businesses, government agencies, and most importantly, parents and youth. LOCAL communities utilize support to identify gaps in services, develop LONG-TERM plans using the LATEST strategies and data, and coordinate activities. The community collaboration then commits to common goals, measurements, and practices—working as one toward the end goal of improving well-being.

Bring Up Nebraska is a community-led effort, instead of the usual "top down" approach to prevention services. Communities have the best understanding of their own needs and resources. By working in community collaboratives, LOCAL partners identify and coordinate resources in new ways for affordability and sustainability. The focus of Bring Up Nebraska is on building the community's capacity to solve its own problems and be accountable to each other.

This isn't business as usual

This isn't business as usual
This isn't business as usual

Rather than well-intentioned individuals and organizations working in silos - only touching part of the issues for children and families, Bring Up Nebraska works to bring all of the diverse and relevant voices of a community together to establish their own priorities and create their own solutions.

Community prevention efforts are not new. Bring Up Nebraska connects the progress that is already being made, coordinates state and local strategies, and encourages other communities and partners to join the effort.

Success Stories

Success Stories
Success Stories


Mia is a bright seventeen-year-old who lives with her father, two older sisters, a younger brother, and her new baby, Cody who is four months old. Mia is a senior in high school and a counselor called her father to express concern about Mia's truancies and the risk of her not graduating.

Life has been difficult for Mia. There had always been a lot of conflict between her parents, but when their youngest child was diagnosed with autism, the parents struggled to manage his behaviors, often blaming each other. At some point, Mia’s mother seemed to give up. She stopped interacting much with her family and one day she was gone. Shortly after her mother’s departure, Mia discovered she was pregnant. Her father was upset and insisted that Mia would have to take responsibility for herself since she had gotten into this situation. Mia’s two sisters distanced themselves. At first Mia tried to piece together help from friends so that she could stay in school, but this became unsustainable and she missed more and more school while being the primary caregiver for her brother as well as her baby. Her relationship with her father became more contentious as he continued to point out that “this is your problem.” Mia worried about getting the things her baby needed as money was so scarce for the family. The baby’s father made it clear he wanted no part of Cody’s life. Mia’s sisters also blamed her for making their lives more difficult and for the financial burden she had added to the family.

A Ray of Hope
Community Response (CR) receives a referral from the high school counselor regarding Mia. Mia’s father is contacted by a CR navigator who explains the help they may be able to provide. When the father agrees, a family advocate is assigned to the family who helps them create a family plan. Mia is connected to a WICC clinic for immunizations, baby care support and supplies. She is assisted in securing Medicaid and food stamps for the family. Mia is assigned a tutor at school to help her catch up on school work. Through a church in town, she is able to enroll her son in a cost-free infant care program. Mia also joins a teen mom program while her father is connected to a Parent-to-Parent program for children with special needs. The family advocate continues to help Mia and her father work together to understand each other’s positions and needs. 


Sherry’s story begins in California. Sherry and her husband had two daughters, ages six and eight. Sherry experienced abuse from her husband and feared for the well-being of her children. Afraid to reach out to anyone in California, Sherry fled with her girls back to her home town in Nebraska where she had a few remaining relatives.  

Shortly after arriving in Nebraska and getting the girls into school, Sherry contacted the State of California for child support from her husband. Once her husband was contacted, he demanded the children be returned to him and a kidnapping warrant was issued. Fearing incarceration, Sherry returned to California with the girls. The court gave full custody to the father because of the kidnapping charge. Having no help and no money for an attorney, Sherry returned to Nebraska without her girls.

Within a short time, California Child Protective Services became involved as reports of possible abuse had been filed and concerns confirmed about the girls’ safety in their father’s home. The father lost custody of his daughters and they were returned to Sherry in Nebraska.

Sherry secured a place to live and a full-time job. Back at school in Nebraska, the girls began to display some extreme behaviors. The eight-year-old had a difficult time managing her anger. The younger sister appeared to have a lot of anxiety and would often cry hysterically, seemingly unable to stop.  

A Ray of Hope
After speaking with Sherry about getting help through the community collaborative in her area, the girls’ school counselor called the central navigator. Sherry readily agreed to speak with her to try to find ways of helping her children. An immediate need for help with gas money to get to and from work and the girls’ school was addressed with flex funds from community response. Sherry was connected to a family advocate who met with her to develop a plan that would address the family’s needs including financial planning, dealing with the girls’ emotional needs, and some concrete items for their apartment. As the plan began to take shape, Sherry and the girls began attending Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) sessions. The school counselor began working with the therapist from PCIT. Sherry had no money to buy the girls beds and through a church, beds were secured. The family advocate meets weekly with Sherry and is in contact with the therapists and teachers working with her daughters as they monitor the growing stability of this family.

How can I get involved?

How can I get involved?
How can I get involved?

If you want to be a part of making sure Nebraska families are thriving, please contact your local community collaborative:

Growing Community Connections (formerly Dakota County Connections)
JoAnn Gieselman, Coordinator

Buffalo County Community Collaborative
Denise Zwiener, Coordinator

Community Impact Network (Adams, Clay, Webster, and Nuckolls Counties)
Brady Rhodes, Coordinator

Dawson County Community Collaborative
Nichole Hetz, Coordinator

Douglas County Community Response Collaborative
Deborah Dancer, Coordinator
402-595-1326  x2003

Families First Partnership (Lincoln and Keith Counties)
Caroline Sabin, Coordinator

Four Counties Collaborative (Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Richardson Counties)
Laura Osborn, Central Navigator

Fremont Family Coalition (Dodge and Washington Counties)
Steph Gardeman, Coordinator

Hall County Communty Collaborative (H3C), (Hall, Howard, Buffalo, Dawson, Merrick, Hamilton, Phelps, Kearney, Adams, Clay, Harlan, Franklin, Webster, and Nuckolls Counties)
Julie Nash, Coordinator

Lancaster County
Rachael Surmick, Coordinator

Lift Up Sarpy
Tanya Gifford, Coordinator

Norfolk Family Coalition (Madison and Stanton Counties)
Britney Watson, Coordinator

Panhandle Partnership (Scotts Bluff, Banner, Kimball, Cheyenne, Deuel, Garden, Sheridan, Dawes, Box Butte, Morrill, and Sioux Counties)
Faith Mills, Coordinator

Community and Family Partnership (formerly Zero 2 Eight Collaborative) (Platte and Colfax Counties)
Sarah Papa, Coordinator

York County Health Coalition
Jake Owens, Coordinator

Partners 4 Otoe County
Lisa Chaney, Coordinator

Southeast Nebraska Collaborative (Polk, Butler, York, Seward, Fillmore, Saline, Thayer, Jefferson, Gage, Cass, Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee, and Richardson Counties)
Collena Laschanzky, Coordinator

Sandhills Community Collaborative (Blaine, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Loup, Sherman, Valley and Wheeler Counties)
Cathy Minnick

Valentine Children and Families Coalition (Cherry County)
Sonia Coats, Coordinator

If there is not currently a community collaborative in your area, there are lots of ways to volunteer to help make Nebraska a better place for all of us. Visit Nebraska Impact for ways to volunteer in your community.

Find out more about how you and your community can join Bring Up Nebraska by contacting Jennifer Skala.

Support thriving families across Nebraska »