With just a few days left for bill introductions to be made at the Unicameral, the Voices staff has been busy at work tracking legislation that will impact children and families in Nebraska. All children deserve an equal opportunity to succeed in life, and we are committed to a variety of issue areas that we know to be essential in putting children first in policy-making.
To start, here are just a few of the child welfare bills that we will be paying close attention to this session:
- Senator Krist has introduced LB 15, which would codify parts of current Nebraska Supreme Court guidelines for the role, duties, and authority of guardians ad litem for juveniles in juvenile court proceedings. Dependency proceedings often have life-changing consequences, and children need a strong advocate and legal counsel to ensure that their voices are heard in the court. This bill would strengthen and standardize the criteria for attorneys appointed as guardians ad litem for children.
- LB 148, introduced by Senator Crawford, would streamline the Medicaid application and enrollment process for youth who have aged out of foster care. The bill also requires outreach efforts to eligible youth, and would allow former foster youths from other states to have access to Medicaid. Young adults need support to transition into a successful and healthy adulthood, and this bill would ensure that more former foster youth have adequate healthcare resources.
- A bill (LB 243) introduced by Senator Bolz would create a statewide pilot project for Family Finding services in child-placing agencies in each of the state’s service areas. The Family Finding model seeks to engage relatives of children who are in out-of-home care with the goal of building lifelong connections. Children need meaningful relationships with adults who can guide them into adulthood, and Family Finding has been shown to improve normalcy and permanency outcomes among children in foster care through evidence-based practices.
Stay tuned for additional legislative updates on bill introductions and hearings in all of our issue areas!