One of the bills we are working to get passed this session is LB 265, a bill to improve kinship care for children and youth in foster care. We testified in support of the bill earlier today and are looking forward to working with state senators to make sure that as many children in foster care have the opportunity to live with relatives or close family friends.
January 31, 2013
To: Members of the Health and Human Services Committee
From: Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Re: Support for LB 265 – Increasing and Improving Kinship Care in Nebraska
When children cannot remain safely with their own parents, the best place for them is often with adults whom they know, love, and trust. Research has shown that living with relatives or other close family friends is extremely beneficial to children: it minimizes their sense of loss after parental separation, increases stability in children’s lives, often results in permanency more quickly, and benefits children’s mental and behavioral health.
Voices for Children in Nebraska strongly supports LB265 because it strengthens kinship care in a number of ways:
- LB 265 removes barriers to placing children with their kin. Given the significant benefits children experience when placed with those they know, love, and trust, licensure should not be a barrier to placing children with the family best suited to meet their needs. LB 265 allows both relatives and other close family friends to provide placements for children as long as they are able to be approved based on the results of background checks and a home study.
- LB 265 encourages greater support for kinship and relative families. While kinship homes are often the best placement for children, they have just as many needs as traditional foster care homes and have the unique challenge of being less familiar with the child welfare system. LB 265 encourages all kinship and relative homes to pursue licensure, but also stresses the importance of the Department of Health and Human Services and other child-placing agencies engaging families to overcome obstacles to licensure and access the support and training that they need.
- LB 265 removes barriers to licensure. By ensuring that Nebraska can use variances (allowing homes to meet standards in a variety of ways) and waivers of non-safety standards (e.g. – square footage) for relative homes, licensure will be more accessible. Licensed kinship and relative homes will then be eligible to access guardianship assistance, which can allow more children to find permanency.
We thank Senator Coash and the Committee for their hard work over the years to improve and expand kinship care in Nebraska. We urge the committee to advance LB 265 as an important part of that effort.
 “Propensity Score Matching of Children in Kinship and Nonkinship Foster Care: Do Permanency Outcomes Still Differ?” Dr. Eun Koh. Social Work Research. (2008)
“Understanding reentry to out of home care for reunified infants”. Frame, L., Berrick, J. D., & Brodowski, M. L. Child Welfare (2000).
“Kinship Care Research and Literature: Lessons Learned and Directions for Future Research”. James Gleeson. Kinship Reporter. (2007)
Stepping up for Kids: What Governments and Communities Can do to Support Kinship Families. Annie E. Casey Foundation: May 2012.