Child Welfare



A functioning child welfare system gets help to children and families who need it – but never makes a family’s situation worse with intervention.

At Nebraska Appleseed, we’re working to reform our state’s broken child welfare system. That means collaborating with government, lawmakers and communities on better policies and practices – and sometimes taking legal action to protect the rights of children.

Our children in the foster system are entitled to caring, safe homes; education; medical and mental health care; substance abuse treatment; and thoughtful case management.

Current Child Welfare Projects & Initiatives:

Systemic Reform

NE_Appleseed_Icons_SystemicReform-128Nebraska’s child welfare system is at a crossroads following several ineffective reform initiatives attempted by the state. The Comprehensive Reform Project allows Appleseed to pursue targeted litigation, policy advocacy, and administrative or regulatory advocacy on systemic issues focused on comprehensive child welfare reform.

On Our Blog

The Nebraska Strengthening Families Act

Normalcy InfographicThe Nebraska Strengthening Families Act (NSFA), introduced as LB 746 in January 2016 by Senator Kathy Campbell, was passed and was signed into law by Governor Ricketts in April 2016. The NSFA implements the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (2014) and promotes opportunities for children and youth in foster care to engage in age and developmentally appropriate activities, encourages youth to be more involved in their case planning, ensures youth receive vital documents before “aging out” of foster care, and strengthens efforts around permanency. For more information, check out the resources below.

Nebraska Strengthening Families Resources 

Young Adult Bridge to Independence Act

NE_Appleseed_Icons_AgingOut-128The Young Adult Bridge to Independence Act, introduced as LB 216 in January 2013 by Senator Amanda McGill, was passed in June 2013, giving young adults aging out of Nebraska’s foster care system the opportunity to overcome barriers and reach a bright future.  The Act extends voluntary services and support for these young people, including Medicaid coverage, housing support, and age-appropriate case management services, to the age of 21 as allowed under the federal Fostering Connections Act.  Eligible young people who were adopted or entered into a guardianship at age 16+ can also receive extended adoption or guardianship subsidies.  For more details, check out our fact sheet or some of our other materials below.

This Prezi video shows the history of the passage of LB 216 in Nebraska.  Click here to view the Prezi at your own pace without the voiceover.

Current Bridge to Independence Materials 
Building the Case for LB 216 
LB 216 Press Conference Speeches – Video 
LB 216 Hearing Testimony – Video 
LB 216 Press Communication 

See our B2I page for more information on applying.

Medicaid to 26

NE_Appleseed_Icons_ChildrensHealth-128The Affordable Care Act (ACA) which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010 makes sure that Americans are able to have affordable health insurance coverage. One part of the ACA focuses specifically on youth who were formerly in foster care. Many young adults who were in foster care at age 18, or aged out of foster care at 19, may be eligible to receive Medicaid coverage until they are 26.

Current Medicaid to 26 Materials 

See our Medicaid to 26 page for more information on how to apply.

Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Adulthood

NE_Appleseed_Icons_AgingOut-128In partnership with young people and other stakeholders, Appleseed advocates for Nebraska to improve the foster care system for older youth and remove the barriers they face in becoming successful adults.  We educate key decision makers and professionals working in the field about best practices, provide trainings and opportunities for youth to advocate for improvements to the system, and work to ensure current requirements around transition planning are being followed.

Transition Planning Resources 

Nebraska Older Youth Stakeholders help launch national Success Beyond 18 campaign – Press Release

Publications | Current Legislation | On Our Blog

Children’s Behavioral Health

NE_Appleseed_Icons_BehavioralHealth-128Nebraska Appleseed is working to address gaps in the behavioral health system for children. We advocate for broad-based systemic reform and, when necessary, pursue class-action litigation to enforce the rights of affected children.


On Our Blog

Legal Resource Center

NE_Appleseed_Icons_LegalServices-128The goal of the Foster Care Reform Legal Resource Center is to engage child welfare attorneys in Appleseed’s reform efforts by helping them enforce constitutional and statutory rights and connect the legal and policy issues they see daily with system-level change in Nebraska’s foster care system.

The Legal Resource Center can assist juvenile court practitioners with the following:

  • Legal research on constitutional or statutory issues implicating targeted systemic issues in the system
  • Information on child welfare reform that is occurring across the state and nationally, including case law and legislative developments
  • Co-counseling, intervention, and development of amicus briefs in selected cases involving systemic policy issues
  • Nebraska child welfare listserv featuring regular updates and the opportunity to dialogue with other juvenile lawyers across the state on issues faced in your practice
  • Resources including sample pleadings and briefs
  • Collaborative trainings

Legal Resource Center

Alternative Response

Alternative Response (AR) is a type of non-court involved child welfare case in which DHHS takes a more collaborative and family-focused approach to helping families stay together. Nebraska is receiving federal funds to test out this approach throughout the state.

Know Your Rights (PDF) – A parent’s guide to non-court child welfare cases, including:

  • A description of non-court involved cases
  • What parent’s rights are in non-court involved cases
  • How parents can advocate for the services their family needs in non-court involved cases
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