Program designed to keep more neglected Nebraska children at home as long as safety ensured

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — Nebraska officials have launched a pilot program to keep more neglected children with their families, as long as steps can be taken to keep them safe.

The program gives parents a chance to avoid law enforcement and the courts if they are deemed a low risk to hurt their children.

Many cases are rooted in poverty, so the alternative response program seeks to connect families with services that provide food, transportation, shelter and other needs. The pilot program was launched Oct. 1 in Lancaster, Dodge, Sarpy, Hall and Scotts Bluff counties, and it could eventually spread statewide.

Thomas Pristow, director of Nebraska's children and family services division, says keeping the children at home is often less traumatic than removing them from their families.

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