Tag: Foster Care

2019 Legislative Session concludes with small victories for Nebraskans

Last Friday, the 2019 Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die until January. Small victories for children and families and low-income community members were made during this legislative session. However, there is still more work to be done and Appleseed continues engaging with state policymakers on a variety of issues impacting Nebraskans throughout the interim. Below are some of the highlights from… Read more →

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 →

Removing Barriers to Driving for Youth in Foster Care

Yesterday the Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature heard testimony on a bill that would remove barriers that stand in the way of young people in foster care learning to drive and getting their driver’s license. Learning how to drive and obtaining a driver’s license are not only exciting achievements but also necessities for young people as the pursue their… 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 →

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: 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 →

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 →

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 →

Appleseed In Action – June 2017 – Protect quality health coverage

News and Events from Nebraska Appleseed – June 2017   In this June edition of “Appleseed in Action”: Protect quality health coverage 2017 Nebraska Legislative Recap President’s budget harmful to Nebraska families Court victory for Nebraska foster youth June events at Urban Abbey Job Opening – Staff Attorney Tell our Senators to protect quality health coverage The numbers were as… Read more →

Improving child welfare protections for transgender, gender-expansive and gender-nonconforming youth

Last month, leading national advocacy organizations Children’s Rights, Lambda Legal, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy published a study on transgender and nonbinary youth in the foster care system called Safe Havens: Closing the Gap Between Recommended Practice Reality for Transgender and Gender Expansive Youth in Out-Home Care.                   … Read more →

Foster care, homelessness, and the LGBT community – how does it all connect?

Research has shown the connection between foster care and homelessness – one study found that of more than 800 youth who were homeless in 11 cities — including Omaha — half spent time in foster care. This report also found nearly 30 percent of the homeless youth had identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and 7 percent identified as transgender. Our previous Foster… 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 – March 13

Last week saw committee hearings on bill to improve health coverage and create better opportunities for youth in foster care. It also was the deadline for State Senators to designate their priority bills – which ensures the bills will be given floor debate if advanced out of committee.   Health coverage for hard-working Nebraskans On March 8, Appleseed joined dozens… Read more →

Extended foster care helps smooth transition to adulthood

This summer, 12 young adults who were formerly in foster care, as a part of congressional internships though Foster Youth Internship Program, released policy recommendations on how to improve the foster care system. Twenty-two year old Kristopher Wannquist made recommendations surrounding extended foster care, a program that was established in Nebraska in 2014 called Bridge to Independence (B2I). As part… 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 →

The Nebraska Strengthening Families Act Becomes Law

Monday, Governor Ricketts signed into law LB 746, the Nebraska Strengthening Families Act (NSFA). This is a victory for Nebraska’s child welfare system, as the SFA promotes normalcy and permanency for youth growing up in foster care. The NSFA will allow kids to be kids by removing unnecessary barriers that prevent children in foster care from participating in developmentally appropriate… Read more →

New report highlights connection between foster care and homelessness

A report released this week by the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) found that more than half of youth who are homeless become homeless when they are kicked out of their homes by a parent or caregiver. These young people then turn to homeless shelters that are often full. Researches from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studied… 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 →

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 →

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 →

Legislative Update – May 4, 2015

Last week was quite the week at the State Capitol. The Legislature gave first-round approval to the state budget and debated several of Appleseed’s priority bills.   Governor vetoes bill that fights poverty for hard-working families On Thursday, April 29, Governor Ricketts vetoed LB 89, a bill that fights poverty for Nebraska’s poorest families. LB 89, which passed Final Reading… 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

Medicaid to 26: Ensuring a Healthy Start to Adulthood After Foster Care

On October 24th, as a part of Legislative Resolution 533 (LR 533), introduced by Senator Sue Crawford, Nebraska Appleseed, young adults and partners gathered at the Capitol to discuss Nebraska’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s new provision for Medicaid coverage to age 26 for young adults who age out of foster care. The day started early with a press… 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 →

Appleseed In Action – September 2014

News and Events from Nebraska Appleseed – September 2014 9/3/2014 In this September edition of “Appleseed in Action”: Minimum wage Initiative 425 officially goes on ballot Bridge to Independence for youth aging out of foster care gets federal approval Lawsuit filed to protect Nebraskans eligible for food assistance Nebraskans urge Congressmen to help Stop Separating Families Get your tickets for… 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 →

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 →

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 →

“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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

“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 →