Children and teens should be safe. That is what we strive for every day and with every family. Safety is what the families we serve expect, the public expects and we expect as a nonprofit child and family services organization. However, we know that some tragedies do occur in communities. The Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare’s 2016 Annual Report recently reported that 22 cases of injury and death within the child welfare system were investigated. While none of these cases were related to KVC Nebraska, we know that even one child injury or one child death is too many.
At KVC, we provide many services and support to Nebraska families to help children and teens remain safe. Here’s how we’re partnering with families and organizations, improving our services, and welcoming oversight – all in an effort to improve the lives of the children and families we serve.
Keeping Children Safe and Families Together
We know that children grow best in families — more specifically, their own families when that’s safe. We work each day to keep families safely together. KVC Nebraska provides Intensive In-Home Family Preservation services which can help prevent the need for foster care. In FY2016, KVC Nebraska helped 710 children and adults with intensive in-home support.
Youth-Focused for Improved Foster Care
Foster care can sometimes be a necessary intervention. It provides a safe place for a child or teenager while his/her family has an opportunity to resolve conflicts so the child can safely return home. If foster care is needed, we want that child’s time away from the home to be as short as possible. A child’s perception of a day is much longer than that of an adult. At KVC, we call this sense of urgency operating “in child’s time.”
“For a four year old, two years is half of his life. We have to operate with that in mind. We have to understand that we need to move quickly. Every day that a child is outside of his home or every day that a child is at risk is a very long time,” said Erin Stucky, KVC Health Systems’ Chief Operations Officer.
Our practice is to also have the child in care encounter as little disruption as possible. When a child has many changes in his or her life, it can add to the stress the child feels. Our staff work to place children in the safe homes of people they know or caring foster families in their own neighborhoods whenever possible.
Last year, 100% of children served in KVC Nebraska foster homes remained safe and free from abuse and/or neglect. Every home in which a child is cared for needs to be safe and the adults caring for the child need to be supportive and caring. We abide with all state laws to ensure that foster homes meet the requirements to be a safe foster family.
We also provide training sessions to help foster families know how to help children who are affected by abuse and neglect. Offering support to families caring for children with mental or behavioral challenges, or simply the effects of childhood trauma, is crucial to helping the child and helps to reduce the chance of having to move to different foster family homes.
Out of the 1,000 youth cared for by KVC Nebraska foster families last year, 72% remained stable in one foster home. The stability of remaining in one safe home offers the child less disruption and helps them heal.
Innovations and Partnerships for Better Care
KVC works to make all aspects of foster care better for the children and families we serve. Watch this video to hear about how we’re improving foster care in Nebraska and across the country.
Safe and Connected™
Our Safe and Connected™ model ensures that each decision made regarding youth and families involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems are made based solely on facts and with the child’s best interest front and center. Safe and Connected™ is developed from decades of experience in child welfare and uses critical thinking and collaboration with the family and other stakeholders to ensure the best assessment. This leads to improved child safety, wellbeing and permanency.
Reducing Moves to Different Foster Homes
KVC Nebraska knows the importance of keeping a child with the same family when they are in foster care. We are leaders in foster care stability and have significantly reduced the number of children who have multiple placements while in care. Better matching the needs and characteristics of each child to the family providing care can ensure a strong, supportive relationship for both the child and foster family.
In 2015, KVC’s MyLink™ launched to provide distance-learning programs with HIPPA-compliant video conferencing and training. This technology provides an additional way for children and families to receive therapeutic services, crisis intervention and training.
New software developed by KVC is helping our staff manage the care and medications of the children in our care. We want to safely reduce the need for unnecessary psychotropic drugs and ensure the best care for children and teens.
Opened in 2015, the KVC Institute is the hub for innovation at KVC. Each of our more than 1,400 employees nationwide are contributing best practices to the KVC Institute and improving child and family wellness. The KVC Institute headquarters in Olathe, Kansas has training and consulting rooms used for interactive therapies and an Interactive Family & Adoption Center. Yet it is an institute without walls. The knowledge of the Institute travels far beyond the physical walls, with educational trainings and consultation services spanning the United States and internationally.
Ongoing Training & Support
The KVC Institute has developed curriculum for foster parents to help them better care for the children in their homes. Many children and teens who are in foster care are affected by the neglect and abuse they have endured. The trainings prepare the foster families to support the children with any challenges they experience.
KVC’s staff is trained on the latest child welfare practices and neuroscience research to continually improve the services we provide.
While we know that some tragedies do occur in communities and in the child welfare system, we are diligently working to improve the foster care system. We strive to find ways that we can better care for the children and families we serve and prevent tragedies. KVC works to support families to prevent the need for foster families, recruit the safest and best foster families, train those families and our staff to care for children, and providing support while a family is safely reuniting. KVC also continues to work in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and others to improve processes, regulations and services.
One the best ways you can help Nebraska children and families is by becoming a foster parent. Become the safe and loving home that a children needs.
If you aren’t called to foster, other ways to stay involved is to donate, volunteer and educate others about the need for safe foster families by sharing our messages on social media. To learn more about how our services are keeping children safe or for more information on KVC Nebraska, please contact us.