The 2016 Kids Count in Nebraska Report includes an in-depth look at the first steps young people take along their transition away from childhood – emerging adulthood. This is a time of profound growth and development coupled with frequent life changes. The decisions made during these years lead to lifelong decisions impacted the next generation of Nebraska’s workforce and families. Our series investigating our commentary thus far has introduced some of the characteristics of emerging adults and provided an overview of this population in Nebraska as well as a look at the health and education of these young Nebraskans. Today we continue with a look at emerging adults and economic stability.
Of special interest in this area of emerging adulthood is Nebraska’s population of “Dreamers.” In 2012, the Obama administration instituted a new immigration policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors to be eligible for a work permit and deferred action from deportation. These children and young adults are known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients or Dreamers. DACA recipients were brought to the U.S. as minors and did not have the financial, physical, or emotional independence to consent to this decision. For many of the over 5,000 Dreamers in our state, Nebraska is the only home they have ever known, and their families are already active members of the community and our economy.
The opportunity to find success and productivity in adulthood is something that we support for all young Nebraskans. Children should not be held accountable for the actions of their parents over which they had no control. In the 2016 legislative session, the Nebraska Unicameral passed LB 947 which allows these young people to qualify for professional and commercials licenses. Without access to these licenses, many young Nebraskans who completed education and training were forced to relocate to another state or discontinue their career path. LB 947 removed this barrier to success, allowing Nebraska’s Dreamers to continue the pathway toward a successful career and lifelong opportunity.
Stay tuned as we continue to share highlights from the 2016 Kids Count in Nebraska Report commentary on Emerging Adults.