Everyday there are individuals and organizations who find unique ways to reach out, serve and advocate for the best interests of children. Each year, Voices for Children chooses to highlight four such individuals and organizations at our annual Spotlight Gala. We are proud to announce Elizabeth “Liz” Hruska our 2015 Individual Award recipient for her work at the Legislative Fiscal Office and volunteerism for Nebraska Friends of Foster Children.
Perhaps nothing sums up the manner in which Liz Hruska has quietly contributed to decades of governance more than her discovery that helped the state receive an additional $6.3 million in Medicaid funding and her response to the Lincoln-Journal Star when asked about the find.
In her professional life as a program analyst at the Legislative Fiscal Office and personal life volunteering for the Nebraska Friends of Foster Children, Liz has done superb behind-the-scenes work to help children without seeking credit.
While most of the attention during a legislative session goes towards elected officials pushing policy ideas, their work would not be possible without the legislative council staff that helps the legislature function. Divisions like the Audit, Fiscal, and Research offices help senators turn their ideas into policy, and gauge how their proposals impact the state budget.
Since joining the fiscal office in 1983, Liz has played a crucial role in helping the legislature run effectively. The fiscal office is tasked with analyzing the performance and financial operations of the state, evaluating agency appropriation requests, and assisting the legislature with revenue projections for proposed legislation.
As part of these duties, fiscal staff conduct an analysis of every bill introduced at the legislature. Typically this involves an in-depth evaluation of nearly 1,200 bills over each 2-year session to provide fiscal notes that estimate any changes in government revenues or expenditures from specific legislation.
An expert on Health and Human Services funding, Liz’s precise analysis has provided clarity on major pieces of legislation that have improved childhood wellbeing. She has also used her knowledge of state and federal statutes to ensure funds are carried out as intended. Notably, in 2010 she contributed to the reinstatement of prenatal care for nearly 1,000 Nebraska mothers after clarifying federal eligibility standards for Medicaid.
Liz’s contributions to children do not end at the legislature. In her spare time, Liz serves as the Board President of the Nebraska Friends of Foster Children (NFFC), an all-volunteer nonprofit that seeks to help foster children by reaching out to foster care families with limited budgets. NFFC provides youth in foster care with “extras” by covering the cost of activities and life experiences like youth sports, summer camps, senior photos, and music lessons that are typically not covered by foster care funds.
For those in stable households these activities can be taken for granted, but for children in the foster care system, they are crucial to building character and confidence after experiencing pain and uncertainty. Following challenging adjustments to new families and neighborhoods, a summer camp or youth sports provided by NFFC offers hope and normalcy for children.
Liz’s deep commitment to bettering the lives of children in our state is demonstrated in both her professional and private life. Her work making the state a better place for kids comes on the systemic level and the front lines. It is these efforts that make us honored to name Liz Hruska the recipient of the Individual Award at the 2015 Spotlight Gala.