The Nebraska Foster Care System gets recommendations for improvement

By Sydney Edens

The Nebraska Foster Care Review Office (FCRO) is an independent state agency responsible for the oversight of the permanency, safety and well-being of all children in out-of-home care in Nebraska. The FCRO is not a part of the legislative, judicial or executive branch of the Nebraska government. The FCRO is also not a part of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the Office of Probation Administration. This important separation allows the FCRO the ability to objectively assess, report and make recommendations to all relevant stakeholders regarding the best interest and needs of the children.

As a part of its oversight, the FCRO conducts an annual report on the state of the Nebraska foster care system. The 2016 Nebraska FCRO Annual Report consisted of data from the fiscal year 2015-2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 3, 2016) and was completed on December 1, 2016.

In the fiscal year 2015-2016, the state placed 5,394 children in out-of-home care state systems for one or more days. This includes 4,218 children under the Nebraska DHHS, either in out-of-home care or in-trial visits, and 1,176 children under the Office of Probation Administration.

Of the 4,218 children under the DHHS, 3,145 children were in out-of-home care in Nebraska. Out-of-home care is defined as 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians. This out-of-home care can be categorized into two sections: home-like settings and group settings. Experts say the ideal setting for children is a home-like setting. Fortunately, 93 percent of the out-of-home care children live in a home-like setting.

The Nebraska Foster Parent Advocacy Network (NFPAN) is committed to helping foster parents create safe and loving home environments that every foster child deserves.

The report recommends that the DHHS require all foster parents and children to attend specific training programs to help strengthen core life skills, develop appropriate relationships and reduce externals sources of stress.

The relationship between foster parents and children is important, but so is the relationship between the foster parents and the foster agencies. Statistics show that 40 percent of foster parents do not receive sufficient information on health, dental care or education at the time of children’s placement. NFPAN will continue to work hard to decrease this percentage and to connect foster parents with the assistance they need.

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