During the 2013 Legislative session, state senators passed LB 216, a landmark piece of legislation to help remove barriers to health and success for young people who age out of Nebraska’s foster care system. The bill created a voluntary system of services and support for these young people, now known as the Bridge to Independence program.
After last year’s session, the Nebraska Children’s Commission appointed a group of young people, advocates, child welfare stakeholders, and policymakers to the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support Advisory Committee, created by LB 216. This Advisory Committee was tasked with developing recommendations regarding the initial and ongoing implementation of the Bridge to Independence program in an effort to best serve young people.
Those recommendations helped inform a bill introduced this Legislative session by State Senator Amanda McGill – LB 853. Today, Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey testified in support of LB 853 in a hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
LB 853 is important because it incorporates many of the lessons learned from the numerous stakeholders who have invested time and energy into ensuring the Bridge to Independence program is successful. It also contains some necessary corrections to make sure the law is implemented as intended.
The Bridge to Independence program will start 60 days after the federal government approves Nebraska’s state plan amendment, which could come any day now. Passing LB 853 will make sure Bridge to Independence gets off to a good start and begins helping young people become healthy, productive adults as soon as possible.