May is National Foster Care Month, a time for Nebraskans to bring awareness to the needs of our children in foster care, and to acknowledge the incredible dedication of the foster families in our state. On a typical day in 2014, there were 3,100 Nebraska kids living in an out-of-home placement, away from their immediate families. Research shows that kids do best in the least restrictive and family-like setting, and today, most Nebraska children are placed with either with relatives or kin, or with a foster or adoptive family. Our state law and policies reflect this shift away from congregate care, and thanks to efforts to better support foster families and to remove barriers to placement with relatives, rates of placement in group homes or institutional settings has decreased in recent years.
When children must be removed from their homes, our child welfare system should seek to minimize trauma with swift and thoughtful action. Achieving permanency for children in care in a timely manner, whether through reunification, adoption, independent living, or guardianship, is essential in ensuring that children in foster care have the best opportunity to succeed in life, surrounded by trusted adults and continued support.
This month, take time to make a difference for our children in care. Celebrate the families, caseworkers, agencies, and champions that support thousands of Nebraska kids every day, and engage with our efforts to continue ensuring that all Nebraska kids have a chance to have “the Good Life”!
 “Every Kid Needs a Family,” The Annie E. Casey Foundation, http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-EveryKidNeedsAFamily-2015.pdf.