Tag: Child Welfare

Safer families and a healthier future for Nebraska children

This coming year, Appleseed will continue our fight to strengthen and improve Nebraska’s child welfare system at both the Legislature and through the courts. But one of the biggest priorities in 2019 is to make sure we take advantage of a golden opportunity presented by a new federal law that could improve the prospects of safe, united families and better… Read more →

2018 Mid-Year Review – All the ways you’ve stood up for justice!

The actions you’ve taken in 2018 have renewed the fight for a more-just society, building a Nebraska where everyone can have the justice and opportunity they need to get ahead.   Health Care for Every Nebraskan You astounded us. Thousands of Nebraskans have contacted their elected officials, made office visits, signed petitions and taken other actions to protect access to… Read more →

Nebraska Supreme Court ruling should help more young Nebraskans become healthy adults

Some big news came out from the Nebraska Supreme Court last week that we hope leads to more young Nebraskans staying in safe and permanent family situations. In the case In re Guardianship of Carlos D. the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that county courts can decide whether or not young immigrant Nebraskans are eligible to apply for what’s known as… Read more →

Foster Care Awareness Month podcast series – Episode 4

Note: For Foster Care Awareness Month in May, we are releasing a series of podcasts hosted by Appleseed intern Vic Klafter built on fantastic interviews with incredible Nebraskans who have been involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system, with a focus on foster care and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender people. In the middle of the series we’ll… Read more →

Foster Care Awareness Month podcast series – Episode 3 – Aging out

Note: For Foster Care Awareness Month in May, we are releasing a series of podcasts hosted by Appleseed intern Vic Klafter built on fantastic interviews with incredible Nebraskans who have been involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system, with a focus on foster care and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender people. In the middle of the series we’ll feature a guest… Read more →

Foster Care Awareness Month: After navigating challenges in foster care, Nedhal wants to offer hope to others

Note: This blog is part of our continuing series examining foster care in Nebraska during Foster Care Awareness Month in May. This is a guest post from Appleseed intern Nedhal Al-kazahy about her experience growing up in Nebraska’s foster care system.   My name is Nedhal, I was a foster youth for 14 years. At the age of 5, my siblings and… Read more →

Foster Care Awareness Month podcast series – Episode 2 – LGBTQ foster parents

Note: For Foster Care Awareness Month in May, we are releasing a series of podcasts hosted by Appleseed intern Vic Klafter built on fantastic interviews with incredible Nebraskans who have been involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system, with a focus on foster care and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender people. In the middle of the series we’ll feature a guest… Read more →

Foster Care Awareness Month podcast series – Episode 1

Note: For Foster Care Awareness Month in May, we are releasing a series of podcasts hosted by Appleseed intern Victory Klafter built on fantastic interviews with incredible Nebraskans who have been involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system, with a focus on foster care and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender people. In the middle of the series we’ll feature a guest… Read more →

STATEMENT – Passing Child Welfare Reform bill LB 1078 is important step to curb abuse within foster care system

***For Immediate Release*** March 29, 2018   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Appleseed Statement on passage of Child Welfare Reform bill LB 1078 Bill takes important steps to curb abuse within foster care system and protect youth   LINCOLN — Thursday, Nebraska Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey released the following statement… Read more →

State Senators introduce Nebraska child welfare reform package

Earlier this month we shared a blog about the state of child welfare in Nebraska when reports were released calling for reform after the investigations of the death, serious injury and sexual assault of children in foster care. Nebraska State Senators have continued to take a stand and call for reforms through the introduction of a number of important bills… Read more →

Appleseed responds to 2018 State of the State address

***For Immediate Release*** January 10, 2018   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould responds to State of the State address Further revenue cuts will worsen budget shortfall, focus must be on investing in healthy communities and educated workforce   LINCOLN — Wednesday, Nebraska Appleseed Executive… Read more →

Advocating for a voice

Note: This is a guest post from Sebastian, an Appleseed child welfare intern.   I advocate for reform of the foster care system, because I know what it is like to move from home to home and not have my needs met in the system. I am writing this blog to introduce myself and ask you to be an advocate too.… Read more →

RELEASE – Child welfare advocates express alarm at Inspector General report

***For Immediate Release*** September 14, 2017   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Child advocates respond to troubling Inspector General report Continued failures to provide child welfare resources leads to more deadly outcomes   LINCOLN – On Wednesday, the Office of Inspector General Office released a report concerning deeply troubling… Read more →

2017 Nebraska Legislative Recap

The 2017 Nebraska Legislative Session came to an end last Tuesday, concluding a session that contained several setbacks for efforts to improve opportunities for hard-working, low-income families and children. Still, a few important advancements were made to improve access to justice and opportunity for more Nebraskans. Your support and hard work, combined with some outstanding leaders in the Legislature, helped… Read more →

Take Action – Governor vetoes put kids and families in danger

Nebraska is a state that has learned hard lessons about what can happen to children and families when their needs go unmet. Yet, the Governor keeps making choices that cause further harm to our most-vulnerable Nebraskans. Today, Governor Ricketts issued several line-item vetoes to the state budget (LB 327) that will cause long-lasting harm to the safety of children in… Read more →

Foster Care Month is here!

May is National Foster Care Month. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued the first Presidential proclamation that established May as National Foster Care Month. This month, Nebraska Appleseed will be publishing a series of blogs on the work we do, alongside young adult advocates, to improve Nebraska’s foster care system. Nebraska Appleseed works with government agencies, lawmakers, and communities on… Read more →

Legislative Update – April 17, 2017

This is a huge week for bills that have long-term impacts on Nebraska’s ability to fund important investments. We’re asking you to take action to protect investments in education, child welfare, and other big priorities for hard-working Nebraska families. Protect investments in the Good Life Friday, the Legislature is expected to debate a dangerous plan that gives a large tax… Read more →

RELEASE – Governor’s cuts would lead to more deaths in child welfare system

For Immediate Release                           April 11, 2017   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed (402) 438-8853 (office) (402) 840-7289 (cell) jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Governor’s proposed cuts would lead to more deaths in child welfare system High caseloads and lack of family support will put even more kids’ lives at risk   LINCOLN — Advocating for reform in the child welfare… Read more →

Take Action – Stop cuts to Nebraska’s child welfare system

We’re asking you to Take Action today to stop possible cuts that would weaken the child welfare system. The Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee is working on their final budget recommendations and may cut funding for programs that have been important for helping Nebraska’s children find permanency and stability in loving homes. Please call or email State Senators on the Appropriations… Read more →

Nebraska Legislature considers child welfare reforms

Last week was a busy week! The Affordable Care Act was maintained by Congress, thanks to the advocacy of people all over the country. Debates also continued in the Nebraska Legislature on voting rights, mandatory minimums, human trafficking and much more. Something we don’t want you to miss, however, was the advancement of a number of important child welfare legislative… Read more →

Help pass this important Child Welfare bill in Congress

Research shows the best outcomes for children come when you can keep them together with their parents in their own home. That’s not always possible, but we must make every effort to avoid removing children from their homes – and that includes helping parents during difficult times. An important new bill coming up soon in the U.S. Senate would strengthen… Read more →

TANF funding for poverty and child welfare

This month, the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program turned 20, which makes now a good time to look at how the program is working to help fight poverty for working families. TANF is the only federal program that provides cash assistance to low-income families with children, and recently, new information has been released by the Administration for… Read more →

The Fosters Season Recap: Not all “foster care advocates” are bad

Warning: This blog contains spoilers about this season of The Fosters   After a long hiatus, we are back blogging about the hit Freeform show, “The Fosters.” Since we last left you, there have been many changes with our favorite T.V. foster family. On a show that deals with almost every topic you could imagine (cancer, the sex offender registry,… Read more →

Legislative Update – February 29, 2016

It was an exciting week at the State Capitol as one of our biggest priority bills faced a first-round vote last week. Plus, Nebraskans got their chance to tell their State Senators why they support health coverage for hard-working people. This is the final week of committee hearings before the Legislature moves to all-day floor debate next week. Advocates urge… Read more →

LB 746: The Nebraska Strengthening Families Act

On January 21, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Nebraska Legislature held a hearing on LB 746, the Nebraska Strengthening Families Act (NSFA), a bill that allows “kids to be kids” by removing unnecessary barriers that prevent children in foster care from participating in developmentally appropriate activities like sports, sleepovers, and  extracurricular activities. All testifiers were in support… Read more →

RELEASE – Nebraska Strengthening Families Act would remove barriers for foster youth

***For Immediate Release*** January 21, 2016   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Nebraska Strengthening Families Act, LB 746, set for Thursday hearing Bill will better allow “kids to be kids” by removing barriers to important developmental activities   LINCOLN — Child welfare advocates, young people with experience in foster care… Read more →

Statement on introduction of Nebraska Strengthening Families Act

For Immediate Release                           January 6, 2016 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed (402) 438-8853 (office) (402) 840-7289 (cell) jsheldon@neappleseed.org Appleseed Statement on LB 746, the Nebraska Strengthening Families Act New bill will implement a federal law that clears barriers for foster youth to have important developmental experiences   LINCOLN — Today, Nebraska Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey… Read more →

Recent Education Reforms Protect Youth in Foster Care  

December has been a big month in the federal government for education policy reform to help support young people with foster care experience as well as other at-risk youth. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the introduction of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act will bring positive changes and protections… Read more →

Normalcy for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care

This post is from Appleseed Child Welfare intern Skyler May.   In the past few months, Nebraska Appleseed has written extensively about the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (or “SFA”) and the recently released report, “Letting Kids Be Kids: Nebraska’s Implementation of the Strengthening Families Act” which includes implementation recommendations from more than 300 stakeholders and young people.… Read more →

RELEASE – Child welfare stakeholder group releases report on improving Normalcy for youth in Foster Care

***For Immediate Release*** October 22, 2015   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org Child welfare group releases new report on Normalcy for foster youth Stakeholders release report in conjunction with interim study on implementing Strengthening Families Act   LINCOLN — Thursday, a group of Nebraska child welfare stakeholders released a new… Read more →

Foster Care Reform Update 07/27/2015

In This Issue Policy Spotlight: Court victory allows children access to vital behavioral health treatments Court Opinions: In re Interest of Trenton W. et al., In re Interest of Jassenia H., In re Interest of Jahon S., In re Interest Estrellita L., In re Interest Lindsey W. & Victoria W. Legislative Actions: 2015 Child Welfare Interim Studies Announcements: Appleseed Blog… Read more →

Normalcy for Youth in Foster Care

For many, when we think of our childhood, we are fortunate to be filled with memories of spending time at camp, going on field trips, participating in sports, and having sleepovers with best friends. But for many youth in foster care, their childhood and adolescent years are filled with upheaval, challenges, and even trauma. Adding to the stigma that children… Read more →

Celebrating team effort in big children’s health victory

On June 30, a great legal victory for Nebraska children’s health was won when a Lancaster County District Court handed down a ruling in the case of K.D./S.L. v. Winterer. The Court ruled children who are in the Medicaid program should have access to certain medically necessary behavioral and mental health treatments – treatments their doctors have prescribed and that… Read more →

Overflow crowd talks fighting Human Trafficking in Nebraska

Note: This is a guest post from Appleseed Communications Intern Grady Wiedeman.   It was standing-room only at Omaha’s Urban Abbey on June 30, as a crowd of more than 120 people gathered to discuss ways to recognize and fight human trafficking in Nebraska. Nebraska Appleseed partnered with the Women’s Fund of Omaha to provide a community discussion about human… Read more →

RELEASE – Court victory allows Children access to Vital Behavioral Health Treatments

***For Immediate Release*** July 1, 2015   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Court victory allows Children access to Vital Behavioral Health Treatments Lancaster County District Court sides with Appleseed in important decision   LINCOLN — Yesterday, Lancaster County District Court Judge John Colborn issued an order protecting the rights of Nebraska… Read more →

Changes to the Bridge to Independence Act – What do they mean for you?

During the last Nebraska Legislative session, a bill focused on family finding for youth in foster care also made important changes to the Bridge to Independence (B2I) Act. B2I extends services and support to young adults who were formerly in foster care by providing health care and a monthly stipend for the young adults. B2I is currently helping 116 young… Read more →

2015 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Kevin Dunn

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences.   Kevin Dunn, an intern in Nebraska Appleseed’s Child Welfare program, has come to Appleseed after a long journey. Starting in beautiful… Read more →

Foster Care Reform Update – June 2015

In This Issue Policy Spotlight: 2015 Child Welfare Legislative Recap Court Opinions: In re Interest of Monty S. and Teresa S. v. Jason W. and Rebecca W., In re Interest of Zanaya W., In re Interest of Nery V. Legislative Actions: 2015 Child Welfare Bills Announcements: Appleseed at Urban Abbey, Appleseed Blog Policy Spotlight 2015 Child Welfare Legislative Recap The first… Read more →

2015 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Samantha Swiniarski

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences. Child Welfare law clerk Samantha Swiniarski is using her previous experience as a child welfare social worker and her passion for Nebraska… Read more →

Working together to protect Native children and families

Foster care can provide challenges to many families involved, but Native children and their families experience additional challenges when trying to maintain ties to their tribes and culture.   In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act after recognizing the disproportionate number of Native children who were being removed from their homes and placed in foster care. The federal… Read more →

2015 Nebraska Legislature Wrap-Up

The Nebraska Legislature closed their 2015 session last week, and what a remarkable session it was. Many of Appleseed’s priority bills became law, yet important work remains to address several issues next year. Here’s a look back at the 2015 session.   DREAMers driver’s license bill passes on veto override vote LB 623 – This bill, which makes Nebraska the… Read more →

RELEASE – Final passage of bills will help DREAMers, foster youth, and working families

***For Immediate Release*** May 21, 2015   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Appleseed praises Legislative votes on Final Reading Friday Bills passing final vote will improve lives of Nebraska DREAMers, children, and working families   LINCOLN — Today, Nebraska Appleseed issued the following statements on bills that were passed on… Read more →

Legislative Update – May 11, 2015

With only 13 days left in the 2015 Nebraska Legislative session, time is winding down. Here’s your weekly Legislative Update.   Compromise reached on bill to increase aid to working families It appears Nebraska’s poorest working families may get a measure of help via a compromise announced May 5 to slightly increase payments in the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC)… Read more →

May is National Foster Care Month. Former foster youth can get health coverage to age 26

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge the children and youth who have been involved in foster care systems across the United States, and work to improve the child welfare system. In partnership with the Juvenile Law Center (JLC), we are using the month of May to promote an important opportunity under the Affordable Care Act for… Read more →

Appleseed In Action – May 2015

5/6/2015 In this May edition of “Appleseed in Action”: Medicaid Redesign Act falls in Legislature Governor’s veto harms poorest families DREAMers driver’s license bill gains statewide support Legislative Update More evidence of crippling injuries in meat and poultry plants Over 100 Nebraska schools eligible to feed all students Primer calls for more accountable funding of child welfare system Medicaid Redesign… Read more →

New child welfare funding primer released

Last week, the Nebraska Children’s Commission released a child welfare funding primer focused on Nebraska’s current use of state and federal funding for child welfare and the best ways to leverage those dollars to lead to better outcomes for children who touch the child welfare system. The Nebraska Child Welfare Financing Primer was authored by ChildFocus Inc., in partnership with… Read more →

RELEASE – Over 100 Nebraska schools eligible to fight classroom hunger with new tool

***For Immediate Release*** May 1, 2015   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org More than 100 Nebraska Schools Eligible for New Tool to Reduce Hunger in the Classroom   LINCOLN — Today, the Nebraska Department of Education announced 111 schools in Nebraska will be eligible to serve more free meals to students using… Read more →

STATEMENT – Governor’s veto of LB 89 harms poorest Nebraska children and families

***For Immediate Release*** April 29, 2015   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Appleseed Statement on Governor’s Veto of LB 89 Governor’s uses first veto to harm state’s poorest Children and Families   LINCOLN — Tonight, Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s veto of LB… Read more →

RELEASE – Nebraska must improve accountability, effectiveness in child welfare financing

***For Immediate Release*** April 29, 2015   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org Nebraska must improve accountability, effectiveness in Child Welfare financing New primer offers recommendations to achieve better outcomes for children in foster care   LINCOLN — Wednesday, Nebraska Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey issued the following statement on the… Read more →

Bureau of Indian Affairs updates Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines

For the first time since 1979, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) updated its Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) guidelines. This is a strong step forward, making important improvements with ICWA compliance and in the lives of native children and families involved in foster care. The BIA is also working to implement many of these new guidelines as enforceable federal… Read more →

Legislative Update – April 27, 2015

Several of Appleseed’s priority bills to help hard-working families and protect Nebraska children received great votes in the Legislature last week! Here is our legislative roundup from last week and what lies ahead this week.   Working Families bill passes Final Reading LB 89 – This bill to raise the payment rate for the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) benefit… Read more →

Today was a big day in the fight against human trafficking

Today was an important day in the fight against human trafficking in our Nebraska and federal governments. With 34 votes, the Nebraska Legislature advanced LB 294 on General File. The bill increases the penalties for human trafficking and protects victims who are minors from being charged in juvenile court. On the national level, after many months of debate, the U.S. Senate… Read more →

Kids in foster care not receiving required health screenings

A recent study completed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that not all children who are in foster care and enrolled in Medicaid are receiving health screenings that are required by federal law. Specifically, the report found that nearly one-third of children in foster care in Texas, California, Illinois, and New York, who are enrolled in… Read more →

RELEASE – Policy change means more former foster youth eligible for health coverage

***For Immediate Release*** March 13, 2015   Contact, Sarah Helvey Child Welfare Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 850-6885 shelvey@neappleseed.org State Clarifies Medicaid Eligibility for Former Foster Youth in Independent Living Approximately 1,000 additional young people now eligible for health coverage   LINCOLN — This week, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officially changed a previous… Read more →

Nebraska Takes Important Steps to Fight Human Trafficking

Last Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature held a hearing on LB 294, a bill introduced by Senator Jim Scheer. LB 294 would play an important role in strengthening Nebraska’s counter-human trafficking efforts when investigating cases, prosecuting traffickers and caring for survivors of sex and labor trafficking. Testifiers in support of LB 294 consistently recognized the seriousness of… Read more →

Legislative Update

This is your weekly Nebraska Legislature update. Committee Hearings last week Appleseed testified on several bills during Legislature committee hearings last week. LB 12 – A bill to streamline the Medicaid process for eligible Nebraskans who enter and leave the criminal justice system. This bill will improve health care access while saving costs in the corrections system. Appleseed testified in… Read more →

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

This morning, January 14, Governor Ricketts signed a proclamation establishing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Nebraska.  And in honor of Sunday’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a group of nearly fifty people braved the cold outside the State Capitol for a vigil to bring light to the issue of human trafficking, the second largest criminal industry in the world.… Read more →

Youth Homelessness at the Holidays

While the holiday season is a time to celebrate for many, some young adults may be spending their holidays homeless this year. And a large number of these young people may have been in our state’s foster care system. A recent study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Administration on Children, Youth and Families’ Family and the Youth… Read more →

Child Welfare and Sex Trafficking in Nebraska

A newly released Appleseed policy brief, “Child Welfare and Sex Trafficking in Nebraska,” outlines the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (“CSEC”) and the risk factors that make children in foster care more vulnerable to the coercion of traffickers. Human trafficking is a growing worldwide crime that exists even in our Nebraska communities. The goal of this guide… Read more →

Appleseed In Action – December 2014 – Keeping Nebraska families together

News and Events from Nebraska Appleseed – December 2014 12/3/2014 In this December edition of “Appleseed in Action”: Nebraskans support President’s Administrative Relief Enroll Nebraska launches 500 By the 15th campaign Report shows working Nebraskans fall in coverage gap Nebraska Supreme Court decides important ICWA case Support our fight for justice for families facing hunger President’s Administrative Relief a good… Read more →

New federal law addresses trafficking for youth in foster care

In September, Congress passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980), one of the most significant pieces of domestic legislation passed by this Congress and a great child welfare victory. Nebraska’s U.S. Senators and Representatives all voted in support of this legislation (Rep. Adrian Smith was also a co-sponsor of H.R. 4980). This bipartisan success shows commitment… Read more →

The Bridge to Independence Program in Action

We could not be more excited that the Bridge to Independence (B2I) program has finally begun! B2I provides young adults who age out of foster care with extended services and support to age 21, including housing support, guidance from an Independence Coordinator and Medicaid coverage.  We’re thrilled for the B2I start because now young adults like Sarah will have the… Read more →

Nebraska Supreme Court decides Indian Child Welfare Act case

***For Immediate Release*** November 14, 2014 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org Nebraska Supreme Court makes influential decision on Indian Child Welfare Act Court holds ICWA protections apply to state wards placed in parental home LINCOLN – Today, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act’s active efforts requirement… Read more →

RELEASE – Youth in Foster Care get Healthy Opportunity from Medicaid

***For Immediate Release*** October 24, 2014 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org   ACA Medicaid Provision gives Healthy Opportunities to Youth Formerly in Foster Care New report shows only small fraction of eligible youth currently enrolled LINCOLN — The Affordable Care Act provides young adults who age out of foster care… Read more →

(Finally) Starting Soon: The Bridge to Independence Program!

With notice of the approval from the federal Department of Health and Human Services on August 19th, Nebraska’s Bridge to Independence program must begin within 60 days of this notice of approval.  However, we are excited to share that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has announced that the Bridge to Independence program will begin early, on October… Read more →

Meet the 2014 Good Apple Awards Honorees – Husch Blackwell LLP

On October 2nd, we will be honoring people and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans at the 2014 Good Apple Awards. Leading up to the event, we will introduce you to the 2014 award recipients. Seeds of Justice Award – Husch Blackwell LLP The Seeds of Justice Award honors outstanding legal contributions to… Read more →

Children fleeing violence in Central America may also be fleeing human trafficking

Our last blog on human trafficking discussed the vulnerabilities of minors, many of whom are part of the child welfare system, who are at risk of becoming a victim to one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. Although human trafficking is a global issue, a common misconception is that the problem is only occurring abroad, far from the… Read more →

RELEASE – Federal HHS approves Bridge to Independence program

***For Immediate Release*** August 21, 2014 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org Federal HHS approves ‘Bridge to Independence’ program for young adults aging out of foster care Today, Nebraska received official approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of Nebraska’s state plan amendment under LB 216, the “Young Adult Bridge to Independence… Read more →

Human trafficking disproportionately affects youth in foster care

Our Child Welfare Team at Appleseed is beginning to dig deeper into the issue of human trafficking because of its prevalence in Nebraska and the connection to youth in foster care. While limitations on data collection on human trafficking make the estimated number of victims uncertain, there is no doubt of the realities of human trafficking in our local communities.… Read more →

STATEMENT – Nebraska faith leaders urge compassion for child immigrants fleeing violence

For Immediate Release August 2, 2014 Contact, Jeanne Schuler Omaha Together One Community (402) 344-4401 omahatogether@otoc.org   Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed (402) 438-8853 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Nebraska faith leaders urge values of compassion, humanity for children fleeing violence Today, a collection of more than 90 Nebraska faith and community leaders released a statement calling for Nebraska to act in… Read more →

Call your Congressman NOW to protect children fleeing violence

Crucial House votes coming today. Make your voice heard! We’re asking you to make a quick phone call right away to protect children seeking safe refuge in the United States. This morning, the House is expected to vote on a bill, H.R. 5230, known as the “Secure the Southwest Border Act of 2014.” We strongly oppose this bill because it… Read more →

2014 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Kathleen Hansen

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences. “I thought Appleseed would be a good mixture between my family science background and my future plans to be a lawyer,” Appleseed… Read more →

RELEASE – Nebraska groups urge Congress to protect children seeking safety

For Immediate Release Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Dawn Bashara Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska Office: 402-898-1349 Mobile: 402-215-1498 dawn@jfon-ne.org Nebraska Groups Urge Members of Congress To Protect Children Seeking Safety Today, a group of more than a dozen Nebraska organizations released a set of principles that they hope the… Read more →

Children fleeing violence need a compassionate response

Over the last decade, escalating violence in much of Central America has reached unimaginable levels.  As the drug trade has grown, local gangs have taken more-brutal steps to assert control of cities and neighborhoods, ruling the streets in many areas with murder, rape, and intimidation. As a result, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador now have among the highest murder rates… Read more →

Humanitarian crisis requires acting in children’s best interests

Note: This post by Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey and Immigrants & Communities staff attorney Omaid Zabih addresses the recent humanitarian crisis in Central America that has resulted in children seeking asylum in the U.S. Tens of thousands of children from Central America have been forced to flee from their home countries to the border due to unimaginable violence.… Read more →

2014 Appleseed Interns and Law Clerks – Meet Rene Cramer

Note: Each year, Nebraska Appleseed is fortunate to work with a number of bright, talented law clerks and interns. This is one of a series of posts that feature Appleseed’s clerks and interns discussing their backgrounds and experiences. A voice for the voiceless, that’s what Nebraska Appleseed law clerk Rene Cramer wants to be. “I wanted to work for Appleseed… Read more →

Nebraska Court of Appeals makes influential decisions on Indian Child Welfare Act

***For Immediate Release*** May 20, 2014 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Nebraska Court of Appeals makes influential decisions on Indian Child Welfare Act Court holds ICWA protections apply to state wards placed in parental home LINCOLN – Today, the Nebraska Court of Appeals ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act’s… Read more →

LB 853 would help young Nebraskans have best chance at success

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,… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed Statement in support of LB928 ICWA bill

Today, Nebraska Appleseed issued the following statement on LB928 introduced by Senator Colby Coash and the State-Tribal Relations Committee. “Nebraska Appleseed enthusiastically supports LB928 introduced by Senator Colby Coash and the State-Tribal Relations Committee,” said Robert McEwen, a staff attorney with Nebraska Appleseed’s Child Welfare Program. “This bill would add much-needed clarity to Nebraska’s state ICWA statute, removing legal ambiguity… Read more →

One step closer to Bridge to Independence for youth aging out of foster care

With 2014 just around the bend, we are closer than ever to local implementation of a program that has had child welfare advocates buzzing for years.  This program, recently titled Bridge to Independence by members of Project Everlast, will voluntarily extend services and support to age 21 for youth aging out of foster care.  This program was created by the… Read more →

Legislative hearing discusses ways to improve disparity of Native children in foster care

The high rate of Native American children removed from their homes by Nebraska’s foster care system continues to be a concern. In Nebraska, Native children represent 1 in every 10 children in the foster care system.  That’s 10 percent, which is drastically higher than the percentage of our state’s population that identify as Native American (1.5 percent).  That’s an alarming… Read more →

Federal child welfare news

While Nebraska Appleseed continues to work with state lawmakers and local stakeholders to improve our state’s child welfare system, we also have been following several efforts to address child welfare issues at the federal level. Last week, I attended a gathering of policy advocates in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities… Read more →

Affordable Care Act provides health care coverage opportunities for youth with foster care experience

There has been a lot of talk and excitement recently about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will be fully implemented starting January 1, 2014.  While the ACA goes a long way in providing Nebraskans with access to affordable and comprehensive coverage, there are a few lesser-known provisions.  In particular, youth who age out of foster care will be eligible… Read more →

“The Fosters” – Immigration and Foster Care

Note: The new ABC Family series “The Fosters” portrays a same-sex couple and their family of biological, adopted, and foster children. Appleseed’s child welfare team will provide periodic reviews of episodes and discuss the real-life issues raised by the show. Hello everyone, our child welfare team is back from our recent trip to Washington D.C., and we have been looking… Read more →

Appleseed CWT takes on D.C. for national children’s conference

Last Thursday, Nebraska Appleseed’s Child Welfare Team (AKA Sarah, Robbie, and Amy) took to the skies and headed to Washington, D.C., for the American Bar Association’s 15th Bi-Annual National Conference on Children and the Law.  The two-day conference focused on emerging policy and systemic reform related to child welfare and offered workshops in the areas of education, disproportionality, kinship care,… Read more →

“The Fosters” – Issues of Race and Culture in Foster Care

On The Fosters this week, the two common themes that arose throughout the episode were race, ethnicity, and culture. This week, we are going to focus on Marianna’s quinceañera, a Latin American celebration of a girl’s transition into womanhood at age 15. During this week’s show, Steph and Lena were preparing to throw a quinceañera for Mariana specifically to help… Read more →

Appleseed exhibit featured in Marketplace of Community Values

Nebraska Appleseed was honored when we were offered the opportunity several months ago to participate in a new art exhibit at the Sheldon Museum of Art on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. The “Marketplace of Community Values” is a unique opportunity for 12 local nonprofit organizations to partner with nationally acclaimed artists to create displays that help the community better… Read more →

The Fosters and the Sibling Placement in Foster Care

As promised, the child welfare team tuned in for The Fosters again this week, and for a second consecutive week we were fairly impressed by the show (and equally so by the show’s soundtrack, Missy Higgins and Brandi Carlile anyone?). Although I was occasionally distracted by the unmistakable likeness of Callie’s brother Jude to Freaks and Geeks star John Francis… Read more →

Reviewing “The Fosters” – Playing by the (unwritten) rules

As mentioned in our last blog, this week’s premier of the new ABC Family television show “The Fosters” covered a diverse range of topics, including same-sex parenting, multi-ethnic family dynamics, unreported foster home abuse, placement/school instability, the strength of sibling relationships, and an unhealthy meeting with a biological parent.  Basically everything but the kitchen sink. As I sat curled up… Read more →

Child Welfare Team tunes in and reviews new foster care TV show

This week, the television network ABC Family aired a new show called “The Fosters” about a same-sex couple and their family of biological, adopted, and foster children. Nebraska Appleseed’s child welfare team tuned in to watch the episode and were curious about how the show would portray some of the issues that children in foster care face. Many television shows… Read more →

One Step Closer to a Bright Future

Groups of young Nebraskans waiting in the Capitol lobby to speak with senators has become a regular occurrence this legislative session when LB 216, the bill to extend voluntary services and support to age 21 for young people who age out of foster care, is a topic of discussion. Tuesday was no different, with members and staff of Project Everlast… Read more →

Take Action TODAY: Remove barriers facing youth who age out of foster care

Nebraska’s current foster care system results in poor outcomes for too many young people who age out of foster care.  We miss out on their human potential and a stronger workforce because of the barriers they face in becoming successful adults. But we have a chance to remove those barriers TODAY when the Legislature is scheduled to debate LB 216.… Read more →

Success Beyond 18 launches to give young people a better path to success

Monday, young people with experience in foster care teamed up with legislators and child welfare experts from across the country to head to Washington D.C., and help launch Success Beyond 18, a national campaign of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative to create a better path for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood. Speakers included Gary Stangler, Executive… Read more →

Every Young Person Deserves the Chance to Boomerang

Young adults returning to their parents’ home after living on their own is a pretty common occurrence nowadays.  This back-and-forth movement has particularly increased in recent years – so much so that it’s spurred a new generational nickname: “The Boomerang Kids.” Although I would certainly no longer call myself a “kid,” I am not ashamed to identify as one of… Read more →

Legislative Update

Take Action to Support Important Bills in Legislature Last week the Legislature did not debate any of Appleseed’s priority bills.  But this week a key child welfare bill is on the agenda.  So your senators need to hear from you on a number of important bills this week. Vital transition services for youth aging out of foster care scheduled for… Read more →

Young People ask State Senators to Extend Voluntary Services and Support to 21

On January 31, young people from Project Everlast joined Senator Amanda McGill and other advocates to speak out in support of LB 216 – the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support Act. LB 216, introduced by Senator McGill, would remove barriers facing young people who age out of foster care by extending voluntary services and support to the age of… Read more →

Join Appleseed for free webinar on the ACA and Youth Formerly in Foster Care

On January 1, 2014 several important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will start being enforced. Some of these provisions directly benefit former foster care youth so it is important for advocates and professionals working with youth in foster care to understand the pertinent eligibility criteria so they can successfully help youth access health care as they transition out… Read more →

Legislative Update

Bills Coming out of Committee LB 577 – It was wonderful news for the health of Nebraska’s people and economy when this bill, which would implement the Affordable Care Act’s new Medicaid program in our state, was advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee this week.  LB 577 is a good opportunity and a real solution to provide… Read more →

Legislative Update

Here is your weekly Legislative Update from Nebraska Appleseed. Wage subsidy program a win-win for Nebraska businesses and workers LB 368 – This bill, introduced by Senator Sue Crawford, would create a subsidized employment pilot program within the Department of Health and Human Services, which would allow employers to grow their businesses and allow low-income workers to gain meaningful job… Read more →

Aid to Dependent Children rate must be raised to strengthen our families

Effectively addressing poverty is not only fundamental to the well-being of children and families in our community, it is also one of the keys to preventing the unnecessary entry of children into the foster care system. That is why Appleseed is proud to support LB 508, a bill introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell that would incrementally increase the Aid to… Read more →

Accessible public records important for government accountability

Nebraska’s Open Records Act is an important safeguard for ordinary Nebraskans that helps to ensure that our government remains transparent, accountable and accessible.  Indeed, it is important for government agencies to comply with requests to view public records with reasonable speed and at reasonable cost. That is why Appleseed is supporting LB 363, a bill introduced by Senator Bill Avery,… Read more →

Legislative Update

Last week, Appleseed testified on several bills at the Legislature Appleseed Opposes Harmful Tax Policy LB 405 and LB 406 – Two harmful bills that would create a regressive tax structure by eliminating the state income and corporate taxes and eliminate sales tax exemptions.  Appleseed joined the overwhelming opposition to these two bills. Appleseed encourages a thorough, thoughtful discussion on Nebraska’s tax system,… Read more →

Appleseed testifies in support of bill to better enable kinship homes in foster care

On January 31, Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey testified before the HHS Committee in support of LB 265. LB 265, introduced by Senator Colby Coash, would enable children in foster care to be placed with a family friend or person with whom the child has a previous, significant contact – known as a “kinship home” – without the foster… Read more →

A Successful Ascent to Adulthood

Nebraska is a state where we take care of our kids and want them to have a real opportunity to be productive, healthy, and engaged members of our community as adults. To that end, Appleseed took to the Capitol on Thursday with members of Project Everlast and other partners to advocate for LB 216 – the Young Adult Voluntary Services… Read more →

Legislative Update

Last week was a busy week in the Nebraska Legislature as bill introduction finished up Wednesday, January 23.  Several significant bills that Appleseed sees as priorities were introduced, as well as other bills Appleseed has a great interest in. ACA’s Medicaid program provides for a healthier Nebraska workforce and economy LB 577 – Wednesday, Senator Kathy Campbell, along with 11 co-sponsors,… Read more →

Statement on the introduction of bills establishing more adequate ADC & foster care rates

Today, Senator Kathy Campbell introduced LB 508, a bill to incrementally increase the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) rate in Nebraska to a more adequate level.  Also today, Senator Annette Dubas introduced LB 530, a bill which, among other things, directs the Nebraska Department of Health and Human services to implement the recommendations of the Foster Care Reimbursement Rate Committee… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed issues statement on the introduction of the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support Act (LB 216)

Today, Senator Amanda McGill introduced LB 216, a bill to extend services and support to young people who transition, or “age out,” of the foster care system to age 21 as allowed by the federal Fostering Connections Act.  Nebraska Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey made the following statement in response: “LB 216, the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support… Read more →

Nebraska’s Children’s Commission Releases Strategic Plan for Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Reform

Late last week, the Nebraska Children’s Commission, created by LB 821, released its Phase I Strategic Plan for Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Reform.  The Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee of the Legislature will likely rely heavily on this strategic plan as they continue to work on improving Nebraska’s foster care system this coming Legislative Session. In their report, members of… Read more →

Appleseed 2012 Year in Review – Child Welfare

This is part of a series looking back on Nebraska Appleseed’s work in 2012. Repairing Nebraska’s Broken Child Welfare System In 2012, Nebraska Appleseed responded to the crisis condition of Nebraska’s child welfare system. During the 2012 Legislative session, Appleseed worked with state senators and partners to support a package of five bills designed to stabilize and reform Nebraska’s struggling child welfare… Read more →

Homeless After Foster Care: Young, Vulnerable, and On Their Own

On a chilly night in January 2012, the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless’ (MAACH) Youth Task Force conducted short interviews with 267 young people who were experiencing homelessness.  More than three-quarters were 18 or younger.  A total of 35 percent had dependent children; 54 percent had not yet graduated from high school. More than half had been… Read more →

Appleseed testifies for Nebraska to offer additional support for youth after foster care

As the Nebraska Legislature moves forward with reform of our broken child welfare system, much focus has rightly been on the “front door” of the system. One group that hasn’t been talked about as much are the young people who age out the “back door” of the system and how they fare as they make this transition. Today, Nebraska Appleseed’s… Read more →

The Power of a Voice – Sen. McGill thanks youth for sharing their perspectives on the foster care system

“Your voice does matter to state senators, and your voice CAN make a difference.” These powerful words were spoken by Senator Amanda McGill in her modernized version of a thank you card to the more than 100 youth who participated in statewide focus groups and/or responded to surveys about an extended services and support to 21 program this summer. Such… Read more →

Interim study to assess state’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act

An alarming figure illustrates that Nebraska has the second-highest imbalance in the country when it comes to the number of Native American children in the state’s foster care system.  Though Native Americans make up roughly one percent of Nebraska’s population, native children represent eight percent of the total number of children in foster care. Nebraska Appleseed, the Nebraska ICWA Coalition,… Read more →

Child Welfare Forum brings national experts to Lincoln

Last Thursday, six national child welfare experts met with nearly 100 local stakeholders for a Child Welfare Forum focusing on evidence-based practice in prevention and early intervention. After testifying at the Legislature interim study in the morning, the team of experts provided information in an afternoon session on best practices and what is working across the country. Attendees also met… Read more →

Appleseed Testifies at Interim Study Hearing on Poverty and Child Welfare

On Thursday morning, Nebraska Appleseed participated in an interim study, LR529, on the “front door” or entries to Nebraska’s child welfare system. Appleseed’s Executive Director, Becky Gould, testified about the role anti-poverty programs can play in supporting families and preventing children from ending up in the child welfare system. “We believe that effectively addressing poverty is not only fundamental to… Read more →

Photography project shows the true faces of homeless youth

Craig Blankenhorn is an award-winning photographer, whose work is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of the City of New York.  His recent project titled “Child Homeless” is a collection of photos that document some of the 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. Blankenhorn spent time with homeless families in New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Florida, and his… Read more →

Join Us for a Child Welfare Forum Sept 13, 2012

Please JOIN US for a child welfare forum on evidence-based practice related to prevention and early intervention! DATE: Thursday, September 13th TIME: 1:00-4:00 p.m. LOCATION: The Cornhusker Hotel, The Lancaster 123 Room, 333 S. 13th St., Lincoln, NE RSVP: online at http://neappl.es/sparcrsvp or to Cynthia Davis at cynthia@neappleseed.org The forum will be structured in three parts: an overview presentation to the… Read more →

Nebraska ICWA Coalition to be honored with Appleseed’s “Seeds of Justice” Award

Over the next few weeks we will be telling you about this year’s recipients of our Good Apple Awards, which will be honored at the Good Apple Awards on October 4, 2012 in Omaha. This year, we are proud to present our Seeds of Justice Award for outstanding legal contributions to public interest law to the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare… Read more →

A Summer of Youth Focus Groups

You may remember past blogs about an exciting new program that would extend services and support for youth who age out of foster care to the age of 21.  These services and supports would include, among other things, Medicaid coverage, housing assistance, and youth-directed case management. State Senator Amanda McGill introduced LB 1150 in January of this year, which would… Read more →

The Importance of a Manageable Caseload

Recently, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued a news release announcing a change in caseload standards in response to the passage of LB 961.  As our readers may know, five bills targeting Nebraska’s foster care system were passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor this session.  Among other things, LB 961 returned child welfare… Read more →

The Spring 2012 Edition of “At the Core”

The end of the 2012 Nebraska legislative session finished with a flurry of activity on prenatal care, child welfare, and a number of Appleseed’s priority bills passing. You can read about these successes and other recent efforts in the latest edition of our bi-annual newsletter “At the Core.” Download a printable copy of “At the Core” Inside you can read… Read more →

Honoring Senator Kathy Campbell

Save the Date! Nebraska Appleseed’s 2012 Good Apple Awards Thursday, October 4, 2012 Livestock Exchange Building Ballroom 4920 S. 30th Street Omaha, NE Cocktails & hors d’oeuvres: 6pm Program & ceremony: 7pm honoring Senator Kathy Campbell Jim Wolf Equal Justice Award This year, Appleseed is proud to recognize Senator Kathy Campbell with the Jim Wolf Equal Justice Award for her… Read more →

How the System Fails Youth, Part 5: Missouri’s Extended Foster Care Program

Ashley is a walking example of how extending foster care services could positively impact youth in care. Ashley aged out of Missouri’s foster care system when she was 21, so she can talk explicitly about “…the difference between aging out at 19 and aging out at 21.” Ashley was able to receive all the support she needed while she attended… Read more →

How the System Fails Youth, Part 2: Former Ward Denied Services on a Technicality

Every day this week, we will provide a in-depth look into the needs of youth in foster care. Oscar describes himself as the “average teenager.”  He is 19 years old and takes college courses at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  However, Oscar has faced numerous challenges in his life.  He was placed in the foster care system when he… Read more →

Extending Foster Care to 21: Next Steps

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… Read more →

My Experience at Appleseed

Appleseed is a place full of movers and shakers, and over the course of my internship here, I have been moved and shaken. I am constantly shown that people are changing things. Appleseed is uprooting the distressing and unacceptable life conditions that some consider permanent. But here, we know that nothing is permanent except change. And we are agents of… Read more →

Legislative Update

There has been a good deal of activity at the Legislature on Appleseed’s priority issues since the last update.  Here is a quick summary: “Green Lights” In the Capitol’s legislative chamber, there is a large sign listing each Senator’s name. When a Senator votes in favor of a bill, a light next to their name turns bright green. “Green Lights”… Read more →

Youth Share Their Experiences and Perspectives with Senators

During last week’s first round of debate on the package of child welfare bills, Lincoln Senator Bill Avery noticed the apparent absence of the usual lobbyists in the State Capitol’s rotunda.  As noted by Senator Avery, there “are no highly paid lobbyists working on behalf of kids.”  While Nebraska Appleseed, Voices for Children, and some other child advocates were present,… Read more →

Statement on General File Debate on Child Welfare Bills

Rebecca L. Gould, Executive Director of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, issued the following statement today in response to the advancement of a package of five bills to reform the state’s child welfare system: “Today and yesterday, the Nebraska Legislature voted to advance a package of five bills designed to stabilize and reform the state’s… Read more →

Appleseed Welcomes Amy West as New Child Welfare Policy Coordinator

Amy West wears many different hats. On any given day, she could be sitting in class as a MSW/MPA graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, advocating for a teen in Nebraska’s foster care system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, or working on a research project with the Nebraska CASA Association through her practicum. Nebraska Appleseed is… Read more →

LB 1063 Aims to Fill Medicaid Gaps & Help Parents Keep Their Kids

The state’s child welfare system is in great need of reform. A vital piece of ensuring reform is effective is to prevent children from entering the system unnecessarily. LB 1063 is intended to address gaps in Medicaid services for children, which needlessly push children into the system to obtain the mental health services they need. Indeed, LB 1063 makes certain the Medicaid program plays its… Read more →

A Timely Path to Permanency Requires True System Reform

LB 1172 requires the County Attorney to file a petition to terminate parental rights when a child under the age of five is in an out-of-home placement for twelve months.  We thank Sen. Pirsch and the judiciary committee for their commitment to increase permanency for younger children in foster care, but believe that reducing case load size and increasing access… Read more →

Strengthen Transparency, Accountability and Oversight of Nebraska’s Child Welfare System

We support LB 1160 because it would establish much needed oversight of what is really happening to children and families in the child welfare system. We fully support that the data collected as part of LB 1160 is targeted to provide accountability in individual cases but also seeks to use the information for ongoing systemic monitoring and improvement. Importantly, LB… Read more →

Address Fiscal Oversight Problems in Nebraska’s Child Welfare System

LB 949 would create a separate budget program for appropriations of funds for child welfare in Nebraska. LB 949 would also require regular financial reporting by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services to the Legislature’s HHS and Appropriations Committees. We also strongly support that LB 949 would require that the Department’s appropriations request process include a strategic plan… Read more →

Appleseed Welcomes New Intake Coordinator Trisha Thompson

It all began when Trisha Thompson landed an internship here at Nebraska Appleseed. “I started interning on the intake line at Appleseed last summer and pretty much fell in love with it,” said Trisha. After graduating with her B.S. in psychology from Peru State College, Trisha is happy to be officially on board at Appleseed serving as our new Intake… Read more →

Ensure Foster Parents Receive the Resources to Meet Children’s Basic Needs

LB 926 ensures that foster parents in Nebraska will be provided with the resources necessary to meet children’s basic needs.  We thank Sen. Dubas and the other co-sponsors for their commitment to improving the child welfare system and ask that you vote to advance LB 926. [DDET LB 926 Testimony] Senator Kathy Campbell Chair, Health and Human Services Committee Room… Read more →

Appleseed at the Legislature

The 2012 Legislative session is off to a fast and furious start.  We are already a third of the way through this short (60 day) session and Nebraska Appleseed is working on more bills than ever before.  We’d like to highlight some of the key issues we are working on in our programs and give you an opportunity to get… Read more →

An Opportunity for Investment in the Futures of Youth in Foster Care

Yesterday, the HHS Committee held a hearing on LB 1150, a bill, introduced by Senator McGill with input from Project Everlast youth members, that would extend foster care services on a voluntary basis up to age 21 in Nebraska. For years, adolescents aging out of foster care have struggled with the transition into adulthood. Typical 19-year-olds are able to turn… Read more →

Appleseed Supports the Creation of a Children’s Commission

[DDET LB 821 Testimony] Senator Kathy Campbell Chair, Health and Human Services Committee Room 1402, State Capitol Lincoln, NE 68509 Chairwoman Campbell and members of the Health and Human Services Committee, On behalf of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, I am here to testify in support of LB 821. We support LB 821 because it… Read more →

HHS Budget Should Invest in Children and Families

On Monday, Nebraska Appleseed’s Executive Director testified at the Appropriations Committee in response to the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services’ appropriation request.  Appleseed believes that DHHS’s budget must invest in and protect low-income children and families’ needs. [DDET Appleseed Testimony] Senator Lavon Heidemann Chair, Appropriations Committee State Capitol, Room 1004 Lincoln, NE 68509 Re: Agency 25, Department of… Read more →

Testimony supporting LB957 to Adopt the Office of Inspector General for the Nebraska Child Welfare Act

Senator Kathy Campbell Chair, Health and Human Services Committee Room 1402, State Capitol Lincoln, NE 68509 Chairwoman Campbell and members of the Health and Human Services Committee, On behalf of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, I am here to testify in support of LB 957. We support LB 957 because we believe ongoing oversight and… Read more →

Return Foster Care Case Management to the State

Sarah Helvey, Child Welfare Director at Nebraska Appleseed, testified last Thursday at the Unicameral’s Health & Human Services Committee in support of LB961. The bill would return foster care case management to the State of Nebraska.  Case management is a core government responsibility. While there is a role for private-public partnerships, and for private agencies to provide certain services, the… Read more →

Statement on KVC Contract Amendment & Additional $1.8 MILLION Infusion

Yesterday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that it entered into another contract amendment with KVC on December 24th to infuse an additional $1.8 million into the state’s failing child welfare privatization effort even as the the Legislature’s HHS Committee had just the week before released recommendations to make significant changes to the system, implement oversight, and… Read more →

Legislature’s HHS Committee Releases LR 37 Report and Recommendations on Child Welfare

Yesterday, the HHS Committee of the Legislature released its report as part of LR 37, an interim study investigation of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) child welfare reform and privatization.  Among the 18 recommendations were the following: Return case management to the state by July 1, 2012 Create the Nebraska Department of Children’s Services Create the… Read more →

Busy Weeks in Child Welfare

Last week was a busy one for child welfare advocates and this week promises to be the same with the final LR 37 report scheduled to be released on Thursday.  Below is a brief recap: On Monday, December 5th, the Legislature’s Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight and HHS Committees held a hearing on LB 603 regarding recent changes to Medicaid coverage… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed Leads a Community Discussion about the Child Welfare System and Privatization

On Wednesday of last week, a community discussion was hosted by the Lancaster County Democratic Party at Gere Library in Lincoln. Nebraska Appleseed’s Sarah Helvey was invited to speak at the event which focused on Nebraska’s child welfare system and the progress of LR 37. LR 37 is an interim study which provides for the HHS Committee of the Legislature… Read more →

NPR Releases a Three-part Investigative Report on the Current State of the Indian Child Welfare Act in Nebraska and South Dakota

Last week National Public Radio (NPR) released a three-part, yearlong, investigative report focusing on Native American children in the child welfare systems of South Dakota and Nebraska. Specifically, the piece dealing with Nebraska follows the story of Dwayne Stenstrom who is now a history professor at Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Stenstrom lived on… Read more →

Appleseed Presents Results of Survey of Attorneys’ Perceptions of Child Welfare Privatization to Legislative Committee

On Tuesday of last week, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Nebraska Legislature continued its investigation of the effects of privatization on the state’s child welfare system through the LR 37 interim study process.  As part of the LR 37 process, Nebraska Appleseed conducted a survey of juvenile court attorneys across the state and asked them to share… Read more →

Build A Stronger Nebraska Together

This summer, I met up with Omaha graphic designer Justin Kemerling of The Match Factory to discuss an idea for an Appleseed art exhibit.  We’ve worked with Justin on a number of Appleseed projects – most recently our Voices from Fremont poster exhibit chronicling how residents witnessed a sense of division, hostility, and suspicion in Fremont since the town passed a restrictive immigration ordinance in 2010.  Justin’s work… Read more →

Step Up for Kids

Do the new census figures reflecting that one child in five in Nebraska struggles with poverty worry you? Have you followed recent child welfare system developments with concern? Do you think that access to prenatal care should be available to all who need it to protect the health of mothers and babies? The newspaper headlines in our state have been… Read more →

Step Up for Kids

Please join representatives from Nebraska Appleseed, A.S.K., Behaven Kids, Boys Town, Building Bright Futures, KVC, NAMI-Nebraska, NASW-Nebraska Chapter, Nebraska Families Collaborative Nebraska Family Support Network, and Voices for Children in Nebraska for the STEP UP FOR KIDS 2011 event. Tuesday, October 11, 2011 3:00-4:00 p.m. North Steps of the State Capitol Special Guest: Tom Osborne In these financially uncertain times, it is… Read more →

Supreme Court Reinforces Juvenile Court’s Authority to Enforce Orders when HHS Fails to Comply

On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a decision that strengthens the authority of juvenile courts in Nebraska to hold HHS in contempt when the Department willfully fails to comply with orders designed to serve the best interests of children.  The case involved an order by the Cheyenne County Court, sitting as a juvenile court, requiring HHS to place a… Read more →

Enough Is Enough

Last week, the State Auditor released a report on the child welfare privatization, which detailed, among other things, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ gross mismanagement and lack of oversight of valuable taxpayer dollars intended for the state’s most vulnerable children.  Appleseed is deeply troubled by the severity of the information in the Auditor’s report.  So much so,… Read more →

Kids Can’t Wait

Recently, state officials and national experts have commented that privatization can take a number of years to see results.  But, as Appleseed and other advocates have said – and this cartoon in Tuesday’s Omaha World Herald points out: children in the system don’t have years to wait. Over the past year and a half since privatization was initiated, the reform… Read more →

Additional Child Welfare Funding and Restructuring Raises Additional Questions

On Friday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that the state will be providing an additional $5.5 million in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 and an additional $7.4 million in the next fiscal year starting July 1, 2011 to the state’s faltering child welfare privatization effort.  Also on Friday, KVC, one of the remaining… Read more →

Nebraska Supreme Court Declines Opportunity to Strengthen Rights of Siblings in Foster Care

On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a decision that, unfortunately, limits who can raise the issue of a child’s right to grow up with their siblings when a child has been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. The decision, which dismissed an appeal of siblings challenging a juvenile court’s denial of a motion to change placement,… Read more →

State Fostering Connections Bill Passes Legislature!

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… Read more →

Moratorium Agreement Reached in Child Welfare Reform, But Oversight Legislation Delayed

Yesterday, following a letter from the Governor agreeing to hold off on contracting with a new lead agency to provide child welfare services in the rural areas of the state until June 2012, the Legislature voted to delay consideration of LB 95.  (As a reminder, LB 95 would have placed the moratorium the Governor promised into statute and also would… Read more →

Welcome Robbie McEwen!

A “welcome” probably isn’t completely accurate, since the Child Welfare System Accountability Program’s newest Staff Attorney has been with Appleseed for the past year and a half and has even blogged here.  Nonetheless, Appleseed welcomes Robbie McEwen!  Actually, “Staff Attorney” isn’t completely accurate yet either, since Robbie is currently completing his third and final year of law school and will… Read more →

State Fostering Connections Bill Advances

Yesterday, the Legislature voted 40-0 to give first round approval to LB 177, a bill that would place key provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act into state statute.  This bill would strengthen the enforcement and local implementation of requirements to prioritize placement of children in foster care with their siblings when that is not… Read more →

Enforcing Court Orders in the Best Interests of Children

Yesterday, the Nebraska Supreme Court heard arguments in an appeal of a juvenile court’s order holding HHS in contempt for failure to provide counseling services as ordered for a child in an out-of-home placement. In this case, HHS also questioned the authority of juvenile courts to hold HHS responsible for payments by HHS’s lead contractor under the child welfare privatization… Read more →

Proposed Legislative Moratorium on Child Welfare Privatization

On Tuesday, the HHS Committee voted 7-0 to advance LB 95, a bill to require accreditation of lead contractors, with an amendment calling for a moratorium on returning to privatization in the central, northern and western service areas of the state until June 2012.  Essentially, this would prevent the state from contracting with a new agency to replace Boys &… Read more →

Voices for Children’s Kids Count Report Illuminates Children’s Behavioral Health Needs

Last week, Voices for Children in Nebraska released their 2010 Kids Count in Nebraska report.  This valuable report tracks the status of children in Nebraska using the best available data across several key indicators including educational, social, economic and physical well-being. This year’s Kids Count report includes a special feature on Children’s Behavioral Health in Nebraska. The report estimates that… Read more →

Legislative Oversight of Child Welfare Reform

On Friday, January 28, 2011, the Legislature’s Heath and Human Services (HHS) Committee held a hearing on LR 37, a legislative resolution that would designate the HHS Committee to review, investigate, and assess the state’s faltering reform of the child welfare system. Nebraska Appleseed, Voices for Children, and many other partners held this press briefing in November 2010 calling for… Read more →

Injection of Funds into Faltering Child Welfare Privatization Raises Questions

Yesterday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced, on the first day of the legislative session which is largely overshadowed by the projected budget deficit, that they “found” $19 million to inject into the state’s faltering child welfare reform effort.  Nebraska Appleseed has said from the beginning that the reform is underfunded and that an investment of… Read more →

Appleseed & Hundreds of Advocates Urge Real Evaluation, Transparency & Oversight in Child Welfare

On Wednesday, Nebraska Appleseed and some of our partners organized a press briefing and roundtable discussion of child advocates regarding the current reform of the child welfare system. We also released a letter signed by over 800 individuals and organizations calling on the Governor and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to slow down the process of… Read more →

“Next steps” in Child Welfare Reform – But Is This the Right Direction?

On Friday afternoon, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its next steps in the child welfare reform in a press release. These next steps include transferring additional case management responsibilities from the state to the remaining private agencies.  This has and will mean layoffs of a number of state caseworkers.  Yet nowhere in the press release… Read more →

Loss of Third Child Welfare Lead Agency Demands State Reconsider Reform

On September 30th, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Boys and Girls Home and HHS have mutually agreed to terminate their contract with the state as one of three remaining lead agencies in the child welfare reform. Boys and Girls Home had the contract for the entire central, northern and western service areas of the… Read more →

Gaps in Children’s Behavioral Health System on Collision Course with Fragile Child Welfare Reform

On September 22, the Legislature’s Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight Committee held a hearing and listened to testimony from parents of children with unmet behavioral health needs. The stories were heartbreaking. Many told of the support they received from peer mentors. However, several of the family organizations that provide this service testified that they may have to close their doors due… Read more →

Clerkship: Rewarding on Many Levels

For a number of reasons, my clerkship at Appleseed has been a wonderful experience. First, the work environment is great. Appleseed has a teamwork-oriented atmosphere where a law clerk’s work and input is encouraged, trusted, and valued. Feedback on assignments from staff is always constructive and forward-looking. Second, because of the latitude of responsibility given to the clerks, my research… Read more →

Appleseed’s Summer Law Clerk Program

Each summer, Nebraska Appleseed’s law clerk program attracts some of the best and brightest public interest minded law students from Nebraska and across the country.  This summer was no exception.  We were fortunate to have eight students: three from the University of Nebraska College of Law, three from Creighton University Law School, one from the University of Iowa College of… Read more →

Foster Care Double Standard

There seems to be a troubling double standard in the Nebraska foster care system that has come to light in a new way in recent weeks as contracts with two of the five private agencies have been terminated due to funding problems. One standard is that parents in the system are often faulted for having unstable employment or inadequate housing,… Read more →

Child Welfare Privatization Crisis

Since our last post on the child welfare privatization following the announcement that CEDARS Youth Services terminated its contract with HHS, there has been more bad news. The state’s contract with a second agency, Visinet, was terminated two weeks ago and Visinet subsequently filed bankruptcy. Then, last Thursday night, Visinet closed its doors after they were unable to work out… Read more →

Underfunded Child Welfare Contracts Put Kids and Agencies at Risk

On Friday, CEDARS Youth Services announced that it is terminating its contract with HHS to provide out-of-home services as part of the state’s privatization of foster care. In a statement to the Lincoln Journal Star, CEDARS president and CEO Jim Blue cited financial reasons and indicated that projections showed the agency would lose $5.5 million next year under the contract.… Read more →

Two Important Child Welfare Bills Need Our Support

Last month, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee heard testimony on two important child welfare bills that Nebraska Appleseed strongly supports. LB 971, introduced by Sen. Kathy Campbell, would implement several key provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 into Nebraska statute. Specifically, the bill requires the state to place siblings together or to provide… Read more →

Report Documents Immigration Enforcement’s Harmful Effects on Children

While our country is engaged in an intense debate about immigration policy, largely absent from the discussion is the impact of our nation’s policies on the children of immigrants. Today, there are an estimated 5.5 million children with unauthorized immigrant parents, about three-quarters of whom are U.S.-born citizens. Last week, the Urban Institute released a major report, “Facing Our Future:… Read more →

Kitchen Tables

I love Thanksgiving.  My Dad (my favorite farmer) cooks for us, and this year, I have not one but two beautiful nieces to giggle with at the table.  This is what valuing family means to me.  I am grateful for a good meal, for family, and even for the baby drool and stuffing that will inevitably end up on my… Read more →

Safe Haven Revisited

It has been about a year since Nebraska’s original safe haven law went into effect and 36 children, most of them teenagers, were dropped off at local hospitals before the Legislature went into special session to restrict the law to infants up to 30 days old. This spring, lawmakers took a first step in addressing some of the broader issues… Read more →

More than Numbers

One in ten Nebraskans currently lives in poverty according to new Census data released last week. One in ten…One in ten folks driving down I-80 on your commute to work this morning…One in ten parents at your PTA meeting…One in ten people attending your church service on Sunday… The truth is that the recession is taking a toll on our… Read more →

A Tall Order for Foster Care Reform

One of my first blog posts this summer focused on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ release of its most recent federal review of Nebraska’s foster care system.  As a result of the state’s failure to pass the federal review, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) is required to develop and implement a program improvement… Read more →

Special Visas Available to Abused and Neglected Foreign-Born Children

An increasing number of children and families find themselves caught in the intersection of our country’s complex – and broken – immigration and child welfare systems.  The first goal in these cases should be for the state to provide culturally appropriate services to reunify the family when that is appropriate and can be done safely.  In situations in which reunification… Read more →

Nebraska Immigrant Family Bonds Protected by State Supreme Court

Since the formation of the our Child Welfare System Accountability Program in 2003, Nebraska Appleseed has been dedicated to enforce constitutional, federal, and state statutory requirements for providing adequate child welfare services in the State of Nebraska, and using legal advocacy to support needed policy reform initiatives. In particular, we are committed to working on issues at the intersection of… Read more →

Lessons from a Young Lawyer

It has been five years since I was sworn into my first bar in the state of Wisconsin.  In fact, just the other day, I received information in the mail from my law school about our upcoming class reunion.  The ABA’s Young Lawyers Division defines a “young lawyer” as a lawyer under the age of 36 years old or admitted… Read more →

Appleseed Helps Secure Two Child Welfare Victories at the Nebraska Supreme Court

On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued precedent-setting decisions in two cases in which Appleseed was involved.  In the first case, In re Interest of Angelica L. and Daniel L., the Nebraska Supreme Court determined that the state acted improperly by terminating the rights of a Guatemalan mother to her two children on the basis that the mother was not… Read more →

“Aging Out” of Foster Care

Statistics on the long-term outcomes for former foster children are, unfortunately, bleak.  While some youth “beat the odds”, far more struggle compared to their peers on measures related to educational attainment, employment, poverty, homelessness, health care, early pregnancy, and involvement in the criminal justice system. However, recently enacted federal legislation, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, provides… Read more →

The CWSAP FCRLRC – Huh?

At Nebraska Appleseed, we have a tendency to develop long, drawn-out, flowery titles for our work that don’t lend themselves very well to catchy acronyms. Most Appleseeders credit our founding director, Milo Mumgaard, for this tradition, though it has out-lived even Milo’s tenure. For example, the “Child Welfare System Accountability Program” or the “CWSAP” is Appleseed-speak for our work around… Read more →

Federal Review of Nebraska’s Child Welfare System: Round Two

This spring, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its most recent federal review of Nebraska’s foster care system. Nebraska’s foster care system was previously reviewed in 2002 and, while none of the 50 states were in full compliance with federal standards at that time, Nebraska was ranked among the worst-performing states. Nebraska made some positive gains in… Read more →

Continue to Shine a Spotlight on Children’s Behavioral Health Needs

Last fall, 36 children, most of them teenagers and pre-teens, were dropped off under Nebraska’s broad safe haven law.  In November, the Nebraska Legislature went into special session and limited the law to infants up to 30 days old.  However, the crisis that was exposed by the safe haven law – the older children in our community with unmet behavioral… Read more →