While out-of-home care is one of the most intrusive and traumatic interventions used to keep children safe, it is also necessary. Some children cannot remain safely in their homes and suitable alternatives need to be found. Everything possible should be done to improve out-of-home care, however, so it moves children towards finding a safe, loving, permanent home.
In 2008, Congress passed the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act, which aimed to impact both time in out-of-home care and the quality of life for children in out-of-home care. Nebraska recently adopted a few key parts. Maintaining connections with family is important for children in out-of-home care, since it can provide a sense of stability and emotional support. LB 177 encourages that siblings be placed together when possible and established clear visitation rights for siblings if they aren’t placed together.
It also emphasizes placing children with extended family – sometimes called kinship care. Children in relative placements report that they feel more loved and less stigmatized when living with family, and studies have shown these children are more likely to quickly find a permanent home and less likely to re-enter care when they are reunified. While many improvements in terms of access to health and education remain, these improvements to out-of-home care are an important first step.