In October 2010, the Fostering Connections Act made federal funding available to assist states in extending foster care services to youth until age 21. At least 12 states have taken advantage of this unique opportunity to date, and many more are continuing to express interest. Senator Amanda McGill introduced LB 1150 this legislative session in an effort to add Nebraska to this growing list of states. LB 1150, entitled the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Services Act, would provide medical coverage, housing, educational and financial assistance, and case management services to qualifying alumni of foster care.
On February 2nd, youth members of Project Everlast joined other advocates in a public hearing on LB 1150. The HHS Committee listened to the stories of four young adults who aged out of the foster care system. Although no further action was taken on the bill this session, the hearing sparked enthusiasm amongst legislators and stakeholders and led to the introduction of an interim study on March 27th.
The interim study, LR 537, is intended to raise public awareness and set the stage for future legislative action by gathering detailed information about the hardships facing youth who age out of foster care. Consultation with these youth will serve as a key source of information. The Department of Health and Human Services may also be asked to provide existing data in hopes of further quantifying the issue. Interim studies typically begin following the end of the legislative session and conclude at the end of the calendar year, in preparation for the start of the next legislative session in January.
Stay tuned next week, when we will provide a more in-depth look into the needs of youth in foster care.