All children deserve to be raised by responsible adults with whom the child feels a bond. When children cannot safely remain with their parents, the best choice is usually for them to live with extended family members, family friends, or other trusted adults. This practice is commonly referred to as “kinship care.”
While traditional foster parents undoubtedly do their best to care for and support the vulnerable children in their care, studies have shown that when children are raised by loved ones, the trauma and loss from separation are both reduced. Children who live with grandparents or close friends, like teachers or godparents, experience fewer mental and behavioral health problems and educational disruptions.
The placement of children in care with loved ones varies by state. While some states place as many as half of their wards with relatives and friends, in 2010 Nebraska only placed 22% of state wards with adults already known to and trusted by the children. Unfortunately, the number of children placed with trusted adults in Nebraska has decreased over the past year.
Voices for Children in Nebraska strongly supports LB265 because it removes unnecessary barriers to placing children with those they know, love, and trust. LB 265 makes it easier to:
- Place children with relatives and close friends. LB 265 clearly defines relative and kinship homes. It removes the requirement that grandparents, godparents, coaches, and other trusted adults be licensed before they can care for the children who love them. Children are able to experience safety and permanency sooner.
- Fully license grandparents and other relatives. LB 265 allows the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to waive cumbersome barriers to licensure that are not related to safety (like square footage of rooms). This allows families to access supports more easily, and makes them eligible for guardianship assistance, allowing them to offer permanency to children.
We owe it to the children in our child welfare system to advance policies that maintain these important relationships and connections, which have a profound, positive impact on children in care. We urge you to advance LB 265.
 Stepping Up for Kids: What Governments and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families. The Annie E. Casey Foundation: Baltimore, May 2012.
 Winokur, Marc, Holtan, Amy and Valentine, Deborah, “Kinship Care for the Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being of Children Removed from Home for Maltreatment,” Campbell Systematic Reviews 1 (2009).
 Stepping up for Kids: KIDS COUNT Data Center Analysis of 2010 AFCARS.