Groups of young Nebraskans waiting in the Capitol lobby to speak with senators has become a regular occurrence this legislative session when LB 216, the bill to extend voluntary services and support to age 21 for young people who age out of foster care, is a topic of discussion.
Tuesday was no different, with members and staff of Project Everlast once again teaming up with Nebraska Appleseed and other advocates to ask senators to support the bill as it came up for debate on Select File.
Although the bill wasn’t voted on until just before 6 p.m., Project Everlast members and Appleseed staff spent the morning and early afternoon speaking with senators, delivering postcards signed by constituents in support of the bill, and reminding the Legislature of the importance of supporting LB 216.
The system of transitional support in LB 216 will help young Nebraskans who age out of foster care – young people like Kris – have a healthy start at a successful adulthood.
When LB 216 finally came up for debate, things moved quickly. Senator McGill briefly explained some recent amendments, and senators advanced the bill to Final Reading without a single “No” vote. Only two hurdles remain for this important piece of legislation: senators must vote one more time to pass the bill through Final Reading and then LB 216 will go to the Governor.
Another important bill that will help young people reach a bright future was passed by the Legislature Tuesday evening. LB 265, introduced by Senator Colby Coash, enables children in foster care to be placed with a family friend or person with whom the child has had previous, significant contact – known as a “kinship home” – without the foster parent being required to go through a time-consuming licensing process that can delay placement and result in instability for children. Placements with kin have been shown to minimize trauma for children and increase stability, and they often result in a quicker road to permanency. Prioritizing these placements is critical in helping children maintain their cultural and familial connections. LB 265 is now off to the Governor and will take effect immediately upon his approval.
Nebraska Appleseed is pleased with the progress made on both bills this session. With LB 265 on its way to the Governor and LB 216 onto Final Reading, we are optimistic about the potential positive changes to Nebraska’s foster care system. Thanks to all of the senators, stakeholders, advocates, constituents, and, of course, young people who helped both bills get to this point. We are truly one step closer to a brighter future for youth both in and aging out of foster care.