On Thursday, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 177 on a vote of 47-0-2. LB 177 places key provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (“Fostering Connections Act”) into state statute. Specifically, LB 177 provides increased oversight and strengthens local implementation of provisions to prioritize placement of foster children with their siblings when appropriate, to provide timely notice to relatives who could serve as potential placements for children, and to involve older youth in developing individualized transition plans when they “age out” of the system.
We believe this bill will make a difference for many children and families in the system, and applaud the Legislature for its action to foster familial connections for children and give foster youth the best chance to reach their full potential. We thank Senator Campbell for her leadership on these issues and for her commitment to working with Appleseed and our partners on this bill for the past year and a half. We also thank Senator Howard, who put in an important amendment to clarify that the sibling placement provisions apply even if the child has not resided with the siblings prior to placement in foster care, and all of the senators who were united in support of this bill.
Contact your state senator to thank them for voting in favor of fostering connections for children and thank YOU for your support and advocacy on LB 177.
At the same time, LB 177 does not address pressing systemic issues currently facing Nebraska’s child welfare system as a result of the state’s privatization efforts. We hope LR 37, through which the Legislature’s HHS Committee will investigate and assess the privatization, will serve as a vehicle for urgently needed oversight measures. While LB 177 will have a positive impact on many children in important ways, the most vital work of truly reforming the child welfare system is yet unfinished.
Click here to read Appleseed’s Op-Ed in the Lincoln Journal Star on LB 177 and the challenges ahead.