Tag: Children

Foster Care Awareness Month – A Year Look into the Future

Note: This is a guest post from Nedhal Al-kazahy, Nebraska Appleseed’s Child Welfare Youth Fellow.   Since beginning my internship at Nebraska Appleseed in April 2018, I’ve had many amazing opportunities come my way. I’ve used my experience as an advocate. I created a Tips sheet on how to have successful meetings with young adult advocates for all nonprofit organizations, including… Read more →

Breakfast after the Bell

Nebraska Appleseed helps offer technical assistance and financial support to eligible Nebraska schools that switch to breakfast in the classroom through the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom initiative. See if your school is eligible. This blog is part of a series highlighting the benefits of breakfast in the classroom and its effects on student outcomes. It’s been proven again… Read more →

Partners for Breakfast In the Classroom helps schools feed students

Nebraska schools just got a powerful new resource to better offer a healthy school breakfast to the kids who need it most. The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC) program recently launched in Nebraska. This consortium of national and local partners, including Nebraska Appleseed, can offer technical assistance as well as financial support to let schools make sure their… Read more →

New report shows Nebraska lagging nationally in helping kids get meals at school

***For Immediate Release*** April 7, 2016   Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   New report shows Nebraska lagging nationally in helping kids get meals at school Nebraska ranked nearly last in using Community Eligibility Provision   Despite a significant nationwide increase in the number of high-poverty schools helping feed students with… Read more →

Take Action – Protect minimum wage for hard-working Nebraska students

Last fall, Nebraskans overwhelmingly voted to raise our state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour, but a new bill in the Legislature would strip that fair wage from hard-working young Nebraskans. LB 599 would allow employers to pay high school student workers less than other employees, which is in direct contrast to what Nebraskans voted for last November. The bill… Read more →

Take Action – Tell U.S. Senate to fund Children’s Health Insurance Program

Today is an important day to take action by asking our U.S. Senators to make children’s health care a priority by extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Senate is back from recess today and their first action must be to extend funding for CHIP, a program that provides health coverage for over 55,000 Nebraska children. The… Read more →

Action Alert – Tell Congress to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program

Today, ask our U.S. Representatives to make children’s health care a priority by supporting the bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). On Thursday, Congress will vote to extend funding for CHIP, a program that provides health coverage for over 55,000 Nebraska children. We’re asking you to act TODAY. Contact… Read more →

RELEASE: Nebraska lags nationally in providing School Breakfast

***For Immediate Release*** February 13, 2015 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org Report: Nebraska Lags Nationally in providing School Breakfast This week, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its School Breakfast Scorecard, an annual report that analyzes each state’s participation in the School Breakfast Program. The report reveals Nebraska… 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 →

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 →

Nebraskans in poverty, and the solutions that can help

Last week, TalkPoverty.org released their state-by-state analysis of 2013 poverty data compiled last month by the U.S. Census. Using a variety of measures, the interactive analysis provides an in-depth look at how poverty impacts various communities across the United States, including each congressional district in Nebraska. Click here to find Nebraska’s poverty data. One of the most alarming statistics was… Read more →

Report: Fewer Nebraska kids being fed in summer

For Immediate Release June 2, 2014 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org Nebraska Participation Drops in Summer Food Program Fewer Nebraska kids served summer meals in 2013 LINCOLN — Participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) dropped in Nebraska in 2013 according to a nationwide survey released today. This means more… Read more →

RELEASE – More Nebraska schools can offer meals to hungry kids

***For Immediate Release*** May 1, 2014 Contact, Jeff Sheldon Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed Office: (402) 438-8853 Mobile: (402) 840-7289 jsheldon@neappleseed.org   Nearly 100 Nebraska Schools Eligible to Participate in Free School Meals Today, the Nebraska Department of Education announced 94 schools in Nebraska will be eligible to serve more free meals to students using a powerful new tool known as… 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 →

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 →

Government shutdown could have consequences for Nebraska families with low incomes

As you likely know by now, Congress has not been able to come to an agreement to continue to fund many activities and programs.  That means on Tuesday, the federal government was shut down. Although many public benefits programs will be able to keep operating because they currently are able to access funding from the prior year, an extended shutdown… 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 →

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 →

How to start a Summer Food Service Program site to feed children in your community

Note:  Thousands of children in Nebraska are food insecure and struggle to get enough to eat in the summer months when they are out of school.  Summer Food Service Program sites across the state do amazing work helping feed kids each year to make sure they don’t go hungry.  This is the conclusion of our blog series during “National Summer… Read more →

Partnership puts summer food site on wheels in Omaha

Note:  Thousands of children in Nebraska are food insecure and struggle to get enough to eat in the summer months when they are out of school.  Summer Food Service Program sites across the state do amazing work helping feed kids each year to make sure they don’t go hungry.  During “National Summer Food Service Program Week,” we will feature several… Read more →

Nebraska Participation in Summer Meals for Children Continues to Fall Short

When the school year ends, many hungry children lose access to the school breakfasts and lunches they receive during the school year. Meals provided through the Summer Food Service Program play an important role in making sure these children have access to nutritious food once the school year ends. This program is federally reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture… Read more →

Lincoln summer food organizers have high goals for feeding kids

Note: Thousands of children in Nebraska are food insecure and struggle to get enough to eat in the summer months when they are out of school.  Summer Food Service Program sites across the state do amazing work helping feed kids each year to make sure they don’t go hungry.  During “National Summer Food Service Program Week,” we will feature several… Read more →

In Falls City, feeding children in the summer is a labor of love

Note:  Thousands of children in Nebraska are food insecure and struggle to get enough to eat in the summer months when they are out of school.  Summer Food Service Program sites across the state do amazing work helping feed kids each year to make sure they don’t go hungry.  During “National Summer Food Service Program Week,” we will feature several… 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 →

Summer Food 101 – What you can do to fight childhood hunger in Nebraska

Making sure Nebraska’s children have enough to eat all year round is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as a community. Many people are surprised to learn 42 percent of Nebraska children access the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program.  However, many kids can’t access these meals in the summer when they’re not in school, and many families that… 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

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 →

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 – Expanding Opportunities for Nebraska’s Low-Income Families

This is part of a series looking back on Nebraska Appleseed’s work in 2012. Protecting right to treatment for young children with developmental disabilities In May, Nebraska Appleseed filed a lawsuit on behalf of two children with developmental disabilities who were denied Medicaid coverage of medical treatments despite the treatments being deemed medically necessary by their doctors. Read the petition… 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 →

Summer Food Programs keep hungry kids fed year-round

As we get ready for Thanksgiving this week and our thoughts are turning to the upcoming holiday season, summer seems far away. But it’s not too soon to imagine great possibilities for summer feeding programs for our kids, thanks to new funding from the Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services Division. Many people are surprised to discover that 42 percent… 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 →

Outstanding contributions to justice recognized at Good Apple Awards

Nebraska Appleseed recognized several courageous Nebraskans Thursday night whose work has contributed to the fight for justice and opportunity for all at the 2012 Good Apple Awards. More than 300 people attended the Good Apple Awards at the Omaha Livestock Exchange Building ballroom.  Thursday’s event was the fourth such awards celebration for Nebraska Appleseed and drew its largest crowd ever.… 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 →

Community Organizations Work Together to Provide Hundreds of Young Nebraskans with Information about New Policy for DREAMers

Omaha, Lincoln, and Columbus — A wide variety of community and faith organizations worked together on Sunday to provide approximately 500 young Nebraskans and family members with information about a new immigration policy for DREAMers. The new Department of Homeland Security policy (DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) provides relief from deportation for law-abiding, immigrant youth who arrived in… 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 →

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 →

Summer Meals Progress Report

During the school year, thousands of Nebraska children benefit from the National School Lunch Free and Reduced Price Meals program.  This program assures that low-income kids have access to nutritious meals in schools so that they can learn and grow. Unfortunately, hunger rates increase in the summer, especially for kids. In Nebraska, we reach just one in ten kids who… 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 →

Lawsuit Filed to Protect the Rights of Nebraska Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities

Today, Nebraska Appleseed and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a class action lawsuit in Lancaster County District Court against two officers of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on behalf of two children who have been denied necessary behavioral health treatment recommended by their doctors. The suit challenges an HHS Medicaid policy that excludes certain… 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 →

JOIN US TODAY, 5pm Vigil to Restore Prenatal Care!

VIGIL TO RESTORE PRENATAL CARE TODAY: Wednesday, April 11, 5pm Help ensure that all Nebraska babies have the chance at a healthy start in life.   Join us! Wednesday, April 11 5pm-6pm State Capitol, Lincoln (West side of the capitol building – at the statue of Lincoln – 14th Street & Lincoln Mall.) The effort to restore prenatal care is… Read more →

“Hunger Hits Home” Documentary Viewing & Summit

Hunger Free Heartland Anti-Hunger Summit Join Hunger Free Heartland and partners to talk about what is being done to end childhood hunger here in in the metro area (Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties) and across Nebraska. View:  “Hunger Hits Home”, a new documentary from Share Our Strength. Learn from advocates and local legislators what you can do to affect change and make a difference! See more… Read more →

Kids Crusin’ Kitchen Food Truck Visits Capitol

The “Kids Crusin’ Kitchen” mobile summer food truck visited the Nebraska State Capitol today to draw attention to childhood hunger problems and solutions.  The truck, operated by the Food Bank for the Heartland, The Salvation Army, and Hunger Free Heartland, serves meals to children in low-income communities during the summer. “One in six children in Nebraska struggles with hunger,” explains… 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 →

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 →

Immigrants and the Child Tax Credit by the Numbers

Denying the Credit to Some American Children Doesn’t Make Sense By Marshall Fitz , Sarah Jane Glynn of The Center for American Progress As the February deadline for Congress to extend the payroll tax holiday through 2012 approaches, members of Congress continue to come up with inhumane and counterproductive ways to offset the loss of tax revenue. Rather than look to the wealthiest citizens… 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 →

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 →

Fighting for the Common Good: John Cavanaugh

It has become cliche to talk about the children as our future.  It is more likely to conjure up a 1980s ballad rather than the obvious truism that underlies the statement.  But John Cavanaugh and Building Bright Futures (BBF) have recognized the basic truth that if we create or leave in place barriers to a good and productive future for… 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 →

Public Assistance Programs DO Matter for Kids and Families

We all know that a lower income means more struggles for families. Families with greater economic resources are not only able to better provide important inputs into their children’s development such as nutritious meals, safe neighborhoods, and higher-quality educations, but higher incomes have also been shown to improve parent’s psychological well-being and parental interactions with children. However, public perceptions remain… 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 →

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 →