Coming up soon – either this week or next week – the Nebraska Legislature will begin debating an important child welfare bill, LB 243. LB 243, introduced by Senator Kate Bolz, includes the creation and improvement of two key programs working towards the goal of permanency and lifelong connections for children in foster care.
First, LB 243 would create a family finding pilot project. Family finding is the evidence-based process that identifies and engages family members to achieve a safe, permanent legal home or lifelong connection for children in foster care. Under this bill, the Department of Health and Human Services and its contracted providers would create a multi-year family finding pilot project in at least two Nebraska service areas. Connecting children in foster care with their family members for placement, support, and connections is good for children and good for families.
Under an amendment filed by Senator Bolz, LB 243 would also aim to increase permanency and lifelong connections for youth aging out of the foster care system. The amendment, AM 1045, includes the important changes to the Bridge to Independence (B2I) program that were previously in LB 441.
Specifically, AM 1045 would implement lessons learned and recommendations from the B2I Advisory Committee and other system stakeholders. These changes minimize the disruption for young people as they age out of foster care, allow young adults who entered a guardianship from foster care at age 16 or older the option to participate in the B2I program, and make other technical corrections.
We want to thank Senator Bolz for her leadership on these important programs to increase permanency for children and youth, and thank the many stakeholders working to make these best practices a reality.