Foster Care Double Standard

Holding HandsThere seems to be a troubling double standard in the Nebraska foster care system that has come to light in a new way in recent weeks as contracts with two of the five private agencies have been terminated due to funding problems.

One standard is that parents in the system are often faulted for having unstable employment or inadequate housing, and for missing visits or therapy sessions. In some cases, children are removed from their parents or are not returned home for reasons having to do with the parent’s economic situation.

Another standard seems to apply when the state is the “parent.” Reports have indicated that a number of foster parents and providers have not been paid as a result of contract shortcomings. This has created a situation in which the state now as the custodian is causing some children to miss visitation and therapy, and is not providing for the their basic needs – including food, clothing and other essentials which payments to foster parents are intended to cover.

It is problematic when children’s needs are not met, regardless of who is responsible. But there seems to be a double standard in which the state faces little to no accountability for their actions. That is, parents in the system often face substantial consequences for their economic conditions. Now children are experiencing instability as a result of the state’s economic decisions. Why isn’t there accountability when the state is the parent?

We urge state officials to reevaluate this reform and, as they do, to consider what it must feel like for some parents in the system who have had their children removed, only to watch the state fail in its obligation to provide for their safety and well-being. Most importantly, we urge state officials to consider what it must feel like for children in the system who cannot wait months or years for these problems to be fixed.

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