At Voices for Children, our work focuses on bigger picture policy change for kids, but we know there are people on the ground doing amazing things for kids in our communities every day. Their stories are the pieces that make up the whole story of children and youth. The “Shout out” series highlights the groups and individuals and the good work they are doing for Nebraska’s kids.
In honor of the last day National Foster Care Month, today’s shout out goes to the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, NFAPA, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization formed in 1999 to increase the amount of information, resources and support available to Nebraska’s foster families.
The mission of the NFAPA is to empower, support, and advocate for Nebraska families by promoting safety, permanency, and well-being of our children. Their programs are geared to linking the child to their past as well as guiding their future. These include:
- Local Parent Support Groups – Parents of foster and adopted children experience challenges that other foster parents may have already experienced or encountered. These groups are intended to encourage families to build support systems and have a safety net plan available before a crisis. Support groups are a vital component to the safety net.
- Kits for Kids – Many children and youth entering the foster care system do not have any of their personal belongings when they arrive at their new foster home. These kits provide a bag for these children filled with comfort items such as a blanket or stuffed toy, personal hygiene items, crayons and coloring books, and small gifts certificates to purchase socks, pajamas, or clothing.
- Recruitment and Community Education – NFAPA assists the State of Nebraska with recruitment of new foster families through the management of the 1-800-7Parent Information Line.
- Educational Trainings – These workshops are provided throughout Nebraska to promote continued learning for foster parents. Workshops are intended for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship parents. Trainings are geared at helping foster families understand issues their foster children may have and provide an opportunity to network with other parents.
This statewide resource is important because according to our Kids Count in Nebraska 2012 Report, there were 1,573 available foster homes, and 1,841 foster homes approved for placement. This is a decrease of 248 foster homes (or 7%) from 2010.
In February 2013, 3,762 Nebraska children and youth who were state wards were in out-of-home care (down from 4,320 kids in December 2011). While Nebraska should continue to take steps to reduce the removal of children from their homes, we also have a responsibility to ensure that children who are removed from their homes live in quality, stable, and safe environments. Organizations like NFAPA are critical for recruiting, training and supporting families who provide those environments.