This afternoon, Voices for Children Child Welfare Policy Associate Julia Tse testified in support of LB 441, which would change the Bridge to Independence Program to add requirements for a child’s final court hearing before guardianship is terminated, and ensure medical care for such children who are part of the extended guardianship program.
Permanent family support is an important factor in childhood development, but for the many Nebraska youth who “age out” every year, leaving the foster care system without a forever family often means poorer outcomes in educational attainment, economic well-being, criminal justice involvement, and mental and physical health.
LB 441 would strengthen the Bridge to Independence program by requiring that transitioning youth are adequately informed of their options in an independence hearing, extending program access to tribal youth and those in guardianship relationships, aligning statute with medical care eligibility, better leveraging federal IV-E funds, and shortening the amount of time that youth spend waiting to receive services. These adjustments will ensure the continued success of the program in assisting vulnerable young adults. Nebraska will reap the benefits in a population that will be healthier, better educated, more employable, and less involved in the justice system.