This is part of a series looking back on Nebraska Appleseed’s work in 2012.
Repairing Nebraska’s Broken Child Welfare System
In 2012, Nebraska Appleseed responded to the crisis condition of Nebraska’s child welfare system.
During the 2012 Legislative session, Appleseed worked with state senators and partners to support a package of five bills designed to stabilize and reform Nebraska’s struggling child welfare system. That package of bills was passed and put into place much needed transparency, accountability and oversight.
In September, Nebraska Appleseed hosted a Child Welfare Forum sponsored by the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC). At the forum, more than 80 stakeholders participated in sessions with national child welfare experts from the Annie E. Casey Foundation on evidence-based practices for prevention and early intervention.
Later that month, Appleseed participated in an interim study, LR 578, to examine Nebraska’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Nebraska has the second-highest imbalance in the country of Native American children in the state’s foster care system compared to the number of Native Americans in the state’s population. Appleseed offered testimony at the interim study on the state’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, and will continue to advocate for a system that prioritizes our state’s Native children remain connected to their culture and heritage in our foster care system.
In October, Appleseed went to the Capitol to advocate extending services and support to the age of 21 for youth who have transitioned out of foster care. Appleseed’s Amy West testified before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee at a legislative hearing as part of LR 537, introduced by Senator Amanda McGill. Youth who have experience in the foster care system also testified before the Committee and spoke at a press conference before the hearing.
In 2013, Nebraska Appleseed will continue to fight for a better future for Nebraska children. We will be a watchdog over our child welfare system as improvements continue to be made to emphasize stability for families and safety for our children.