All children deserve loving and permanent relationships with adults that they can trust and learn from, especially as they transition into adulthood. This is particularly important for children and youth in the child welfare system. In addition to the trauma that led to their initial placement, children in care often experience additional stressors during their time in the system, which can have long-lasting consequences for their physical and emotional well-being.
Research shows that children do better with family and other trusted adults. Social support can both mediate and buffer against the stress of maltreatment and placement for better mental and psychological health. Additionally, kinship placements, which allow for the maintenance of cultural and familial ties, are known to produce improved outcomes in placement stability, behavioral and mental health, educational achievement, and overall well-being.This week at the Legislature, a bill introduced by Senator Bolz, LB 243 has been scheduled for debate. LB 243 would implement a Family Finding pilot project in the state. The Family Finding model has been implemented across the country to engage family members who are able to provide a lifelong support network for foster youth.
Strengthening social support systems is an important piece of ensuring that our child welfare system provides adequate supports and services to our most vulnerable children. Family Finding programs have shown positive effects on legal and emotional permanency, especially for older youth or those considered “hard to place.” Last year, 260 Nebraska youth “aged out” of the system, 37% of which had been in care for 3 years or more, and another 25% had been in care for 2-3 years.
By connecting youth with a forever family or a lifelong source of support, implementing the model in Nebraska would mark another step forward in progress for our state child welfare system. LB 243 is an important opportunity for Nebraska to ensure that all children in the foster care system have the best opportunities to become happy and healthy adults.
Contact your state senator today to let them know that you support LB 243! To find your senator, click here.
To read our testimony before the Health and Human Services Committee, click here.