Foster Care Reform Update – January 2016

NE_Appleseed_Icons_SystemicReform-128IN THIS ISSUE

 

  • Policy Spotlight: 104th Legislative Session
  • Court Opinions: In re Interest of Dante S.
  • Legislative Actions: 2016 Child Welfare Legislative Bills
  • Announcements: Introduced Legislation Chart, Appleseed Blog

POLICY SPOTLIGHT

The 2nd session of the 104th Nebraska Legislature began on January 6, 2015. Here are a few of the bills that Nebraska Appleseed will be monitoring closely this session:

The Nebraska Strengthening Families Act

LB 746, introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell, improves “normalcy” for children and youth in foster care. LB 746 implements critical aspects of the new federal law, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, reconciles existing Nebraska statute to be in compliance with this law, and reflects the recommendations of over 200 local stakeholders. Specifically, LB 746 would implement the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard (RPPS) to allow foster parents to use their best judgment in making day-to-day decisions regarding in what extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities youth in their care may participate. The bill specifies that the RPPS does not otherwise alter the existing constitutional rights of biological parents. LB 746 also includes requirements to further empower youth through increased involvement in transition planning at age 14 (previously age 16) and by providing youth with notice of their rights. The NSFA would also ensure youth are provided with a comprehensive “discharge packet” upon leaving foster care, including information on their families, available benefits, and vital documents such as their birth certificate and driver’s license. Among other things, LB 746 would also eliminate the use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA or independent living in Nebraska) as a permanency plan for youth 16 and under in accordance with the federal SFA.

See our fact sheet for more information on LB 746

Transition to Adult Living Success Program

LB 866, introduced by Senator Kate Bolz, creates the Transition to Adult Living Success Program to provide extended services to young people aging out of the juvenile justice system. in order to participate,young adults must have aged out of the juvenile justice system with an adjudication under 43-247(1),(2), or (3)(b) and have spent at least 90 out of the 180 days preceding his or her 19th birthday in out-of-home care. Program participants would be provided with case management and independent living services, including help with housing, life skills training, and education or employment assistance until age 21. They would be eligible to receive up to $1,000 in assistance for critical needs, such as food, shelter, health care, clothing, or other needs as approved by their caseworkers. LB 866 also requires that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) collect data in order to monitor and evaluate the success of the program.

The hearing for LB 746 was held in front of the Health and Human Services Committee on January 21st and the hearing of LB 866 is scheduled for February 3rd. For a complete list of child welfare bills Appleseed is monitoring this session, including the latest action on those bills, please see the “Legislative Actions” sections below.

COURT OPINIONS

In re Interest of Dante S. No. A-15-607

January 5, 2016

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed an order of a juvenile court which found that reasonable efforts to reunify a mother with her child were not required because the mother’s parental rights to the child’s sibling had previously been terminated. In this case, the mother had her parental rights terminated to one of her children in Missouri. The child at issue in this case was removed from the mother the day after his birth and the State subsequently filed a petition alleging that the child was within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a). The juvenile court then entered an order finding that reasonable efforts were not required in this case pursuant to § 43-283.01(4) because the mother’s parental rights had been terminated as to the child’s older sibling. The mother appealed alleging that the juvenile court erred in excusing the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) from their duty to provide reasonable efforts because the provision of reasonable efforts would be in the child’s best interest.  The Court of Appeals concluded that the mother’s statutory interpretation was incorrect because the plain language of § 43-283.01(4) does not expressly include a best interests component and, “Nebraska case law does not discuss best interests when addressing § 43-283.01(4).” Therefore, the Court of Appeals determined that the State had met its burden in showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother’s parental rights had previously been terminated as to the child’s older sibling. Read the full opinion here.

LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

LB 670 (Sen. Krist) – Require a hearing prior to release for persons taken into custody for mental health reasons

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee on January 7, 2016

 

LB 673 (Sen. Krist) – Change provisions relating to appointment of guardians ad litem

 

LB 675 (Sen. Krist) – Change provisions relating to placement and detention of juveniles

  • Last action – Hearing held in Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2016

 

LB 684 (Sen. Bolz and Sen. Kolterman) – Change provisions relating to exemption from an adoptive home study as prescribed

  • Last action – Notice of hearing in Health and Human Services Committee for February 3, 2016

 

LB 697 (Sen. Howard) – Provide for a medicaid state plan amendment application relating to functional family therapy

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee on January 7, 2016

 

LB 707 (Sen. Coash) – Increase the number of judges of the separate juvenile court

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee on January 7, 2016

 

LB 709 (Sen. Howard) – Provide for an alternative to detention for juveniles

  • Last action – Hearing held in Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2016

 

LB 744 (Sen. Watermeier) – Provide for communication and contact agreements in private and agency adoptions

  • Last action – Hearing held in Judiciary Committee on January 22, 2016

 

LB 746 (Sen. Campbell) – Adopt the Nebraska SFA, change provisions for guardians ad litem and services for children, and create the Normalcy Task Force

 

LB 780 (Sen. Schumacher) – Change provisions relating to emergency protective custody

  • Last action – Notice of hearing in Judiciary Committee for February 3, 2016

 

LB 818 (Sen. Kolowski) – Change provisions relating to immunity when submitting a complaint under the Children’s Residential Facilities and Placing Licensure Act

  • Last action – Notice of hearing in Health and Human Services Committee for February 3, 2016

 

LB 843 (Sen. Pansing Brooks and Sen. Scheer) – Change provisions relating to prostitution

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee on January 11, 2016

 

LB 845 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Provide requirements relating to confinement of juveniles and provide a duty for the Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare

 

LB 866 (Sen. Bolz) – Adopt the Transition to Adult Living Success Program Act

  • Last action – Notice of hearing in Health and Human Services Committee for February 3, 2016

 

LB 867 (Sen. Murante) – Change provisions relating to the Administrative Procedure Act and require the Department of Correctional Services to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations

  • Last action – Referred to Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee on January 12, 2016

 

LB 893 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Modify jurisdiction of juvenile courts and change provisions relating to temporary custody and disposition of juveniles

  • Last action – Hearing held in Judiciary Committee on January 22, 2016

 

LB 894 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Change provisions relating to appointment of counsel in juvenile cases

  • Last action – Hearing held in Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2016

 

LB 939 (Sen. Mello) – Adopt the Nebraska Early Childhood Advantage Act

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee on January 14, 2016

 

LB 954 (Sen. Krist) – Change provisions relating to access to records for and investigations by the Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare

  • Executive Board priority bill
  • Last action – Hearing held in Executive Board on January 22, 2016

 

LB 975 (Sen. Kolterman) – Adopt the Child Welfare Services Preservation Act

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee on January 19, 2016

 

LB 998 (Sen. Schumacher) – Provide for emergency community crisis centers and change provisions relating to emergency protective custody

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee on January 20, 2016

 

LB 1010 (Sen. Williams) – Change provisions relating to juvenile court petitions

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2016

 

LB 1034 (Sen. Campbell) – Change provisions relating to the Nebraska Children’s Commission

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee on January 21, 2016

ANNOUNCEMENTS

View the 2016 Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Legislation chart here

Appleseed Blog

Appleseed maintains a blog (on our recently updated website!) where you can read daily updates about our work to positively impact low-income families, immigrants, children in foster care, and access to health care.  Stop by and check it out!  Read, comment, and share your own stories with us at: http://www.neappleseed.org/blog

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