By Juli Oberlander
Nearly 16 percent of Nebraska foster children were in out-of-home care in 2013, according to the 2015 Kids Count policy report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Meanwhile, the national average of children in out-of-home care is 14 percent.
This statistic shows the need for Nebraska policymakers to assess the areas where the state has “fallen behind” the nation in providing adequate care for children, according to an article in the Lincoln Journal Star. Sam Huppert, communications coordinator for Voices for Children in Nebraska, finds the current foster care model is the reason for the problems children face.
“Despite federal laws mandating that children are quickly moved out of group placements, thousands of children are living in these situations,” Huppert says. “This inefficient model breaks up siblings and moves children away from familiar routines, causing further traumatization.”
Huppert’s statement shows the need for state legislators to advocate for foster children. In order to help children, Nebraska policymakers must prioritize placement of youth with kin or state-registered foster families rather than in group homes. Support for foster children starts with change on the judicial level, and the Nebraska Foster Parent Advocacy Network (NFPAN) dedicates its efforts to accomplishing that purpose for Nebraska youth.
NFPAN’s latest initiative to help Nebraska children is a judicial outreach and awareness plan that will communicate the mission of NFPAN to presiding Douglas County Juvenile Court judges. Nebraska children need an advocate in order to succeed, and change must begin with concerted efforts on the part of policymakers and organizations.