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It’s Why It Matters

For over 28 years, Voices for Children in Nebraska has been the outspoken, independent voice for Nebraska’s kids.  As we move closer to our annual Spotlight Gala on September 19, we’re taking a look inside our organization to show you how we create opportunities for children to reach their full potential.  In the final part of our series; “It’s Who We Are, It’s What We Do, It’s Why It Matters”, we look at how our work is changing the lives of our state’s children. 

Victories for kids do not just happen by accident.  All children deserve the chance to lead healthy, secure and fulfilling lives.  However, many children in our state don’t have a voice, and it takes thorough research and skilled advocacy to score big wins for Nebraska’s children and families.

When we create victories for Nebraska’s kids and families, it benefits all of us. Ensuring that families are able to meet the basic needs of their children, and that kids are receiving affordable, quality health care, gives them a better chance to reach their full potential and become skilled workers that help drive our state economy. Likewise, by placing an emphasis on the rehabilitative nature of the juvenile justice system, as opposed to harsh punishments, we can cut recidivism and make our communities safer. Investments in our state’s kids and families create a stronger Nebraska that we all can be proud of.

Beyond all of this, however, is the basic principle that ALL children deserve the opportunity grow into happy and healthy adults.

Since 1987, we have been the independent voice that has been creating these opportunities for Nebraska’s kids:

  • Child Care Cliff Effect
    • 2015 – Voices for Children works with the legislature to help end the cliff effect in child care, providing a critical work support for parents and also helping to ensure the safety and well-being of our state’s children.
  • Youth Shackling and Status Offense Reform
    • 2015 – Voices for Children helps pass legislation that reforms how the state treats “status offenders” and prohibits indiscriminate youth shackling in court, placing an emphasis on community-based rehabilitative efforts.
  • Treating Kids as Kids
    • 2014 – With help from Voices for Children’s advocacy, legislation is passed which requires that most youth cases start in juvenile court, rather than adult criminal court, making it easier for youth to be held accountable in more appropriate, effective ways.
  • More Forever Families for Kids
    • 2014 – Voices for Children helps pass legislation that creates a statutory framework for permanent guardianships in cases where out-of-home placement is no longer temporary.
  • Alternative Response Pilot
    • 2014 – Following advocacy by Voices for Children, the Legislature authorizes the implementation and evaluation of an alternative response pilot project in Nebraska. Instead of a one-size-fits all front door, Nebraska’s child welfare system will be better able to keep kids safe by partnering with their families in low- and moderate risk cases.
  • Kinship Care
    • 2013 – Voices for Children works with the Legislature to remove barriers to placing children in the foster care system with adults they know, creating stability for children during an otherwise difficult time.
  • Alternatives to Youth Detention
    • 2013 – Voices for Children and partners work to pass a comprehensive juvenile justice reform package the invests and additional $14.5 million into the juvenile justice system to ensure that youth can access evidence-based services close to their homes, in order to reduce Nebraska’s reliance on detention and incarceration.
  • Prenatal Care Restored
    • 2012 – Prenatal care coverage for all low-income Nebraska moms was restored through the Medicaid program. Regular prenatal care helps give babies the healthiest possible start in life.
  • Asset Limits
    • 2011 – Voices for Children helps remove barriers to savings in the SNAP, also known as food stamps, program to ensure families don’t have to tap into things like a retirement account to feed their kids.
  • Child Care Subsidy
    • 2010 – Voices for Children and others advocate against a reduction in the payment rate to child care providers, ultimately making the reduction in payment rates temporary.
  • Kids Connection Expanded
    • 2009 – Voices for Children and its advocacy partners help raise the Kids Connection eligibility level to 200% of the federal poverty level, giving more Nebraska children access to the medical care needed to grow up healthy and strong.
  • Individual Development Accounts
    • 2009 – Voices for Children brings in national experts on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to leverage federal funding and start a program in Nebraska. IDAs are savings accounts that match the savings of low-income families and help start a business, pay for an education or buy a home.
  • School Breakfast
    • 2007 – Voices for Children works to support the passage of a bill to ensure more stable funding for school breakfast programs and expand access to breakfast to low-income students.
  • State Earned Income Tax Credit
    • 2006 – Voices for Children helps pass the State Earned Income Tax Credit, the single most effective policy allowing families to move out of poverty. The EITC puts more of the low-income workers’ paychecks back in their pockets, helping pay for basic expenses.
  • Home Visitation
    • 2005 – Voices for Children helps pass a bill recommending and funding a home-based visitation program to help prevent child abuse and neglect.  By helping new parents learn how to care for their child, we set families up for greater success in the future.
  • Families Economic Security for Rural Americans
    • 2004 – Voices for Children in Nebraska partners with child advocacy organizations around the country to produce Family Economic Security for Rural Americans highlighting rural families’ strengths and challenges.
  • Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act
    • 2000 – Voices for Children works with the Crime Commission to bring Nebraska into compliance with the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act, restoring federal funding for juvenile justice services.
  • Domestic Violence
    • 1999 – Voices for Children begins work with the Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition clarifying and improving links between child abuse and domestic violence. This work includes the video “Through Trevor’s Eyes”
  • Kids Connection
    • 1999 – Years of advocacy pay off and Kids Connection, Nebraska’s health care program for low-income children, is enacted into law. Voices for Children begins a multi-year outreach and enrollment effort.
  • Adoption & Safe Families Act
    • 1998 – The Adoption & Safe Families Act passes and places children’s safety, permanency, and well-being at the center of child welfare decisions in Nebraska, moving foster children into permanent families more quickly.
  • Blueprint for Action
    • 1997 – Voices for Children organizes the first “Blueprint for Action” conference.  Conference attendees helped develop the policy agenda for Voices for Children.
  • Candidate Survey
    • 1996 – Voices for Children conducts its first survey of candidates for the Legislature. This survey gives advocates a chance to get to know candidates and helps educate candidates about children’s issues. Voices has surveyed candidates every two years ever since.
  • Office of Juvenile Services
    • 1994 – The Office of Juvenile Services is created to prioritize the needs of youth and direct our young people away from crime.
  • Parenting Act
    • 1993 – Voices for Children develops the first version of the Nebraska Parenting Act, ensuring that the best interest of the child is the primary factor in determining child custody of divorcing parents.
  • Founding
    • 1987 – Voices for Children in Nebraska is founded by Kathy Bigsby Moore. Kathy and her husband Craig were foster parents who saw firsthand the issues the children in their care faced. The rest is history…

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