Nebraska Foster Care
On any given day, more than 6,000 children and teens are in the Nebraska foster care system. Many of these youth have experienced abuse, neglect, or other family challenges and have been removed from their homes by the courts for their safety. Relatives, non-related kin, and foster families provide care and support for these youth while they are in out-of-home care.
Foster care is a safe place that gives youth and their birth family an opportunity to resolve conflicts or disruptions and learn healthy skills so the youth can safely return home. Many birth families need help learning effective parenting skills, overcoming substance use, or learning healthy ways to cope with the trauma they themselves have experienced.
Becoming a Foster Parent
At KVC, one of our core services is recruiting, training, licensing, and supporting foster families to care for youth ages birth to 18. Youth age 13 and older have the greatest need for a foster family. These families offer the stability each child needs by providing a home, food, clothing, education, access to medical care, supervision and transportation, support, nurturing and guidance. Foster families also play an important role in helping each youth achieve safe and timely permanency. KVC staff are on call 24/7 to offer support, advice and crisis intervention to foster parents who open their homes to youth in need. To learn about the process involved in becoming a foster parent, take a look at our guide “6 Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent.”
What is foster care?
Foster care in Nebraska provides a temporary arrangement for a child or teen when they are not able to live with their biological parents or other natural caregivers. During this time, child welfare professionals work to find the best possible relative, foster family, or other placement option for that youth until they can safely return home or a permanency plan is identified.
Different types of foster care exist to meet the unique needs of each youth and family including relative/kinship care, non-related kin, traditional foster care, specialized therapeutic or medical foster care, and respite care. Learn more about the types of foster care here.
Who is in Nebraska foster care?
Youth in foster care range from infants to 18 years old. The average age of a child in foster care is 9 years old, and there are slightly more boys than girls. The median amount of time that a child is in foster care is just over a year. More than half of these children will be safely reunified with their parents or primary caregivers, and nearly one-quarter will be adopted, many by their foster parents. In the U.S., more than 20,000 youth leave the foster care system each year because they have not yet been safely reunited with their families or adopted, and are too old to remain in state custody.
Why are children and teens in foster care?
Most of the children and teens in foster care have experienced abuse or neglect in some capacity. Each state determines how physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are defined, and youth enter foster care if it meets these criteria. Neglect can include physical neglect, medical neglect or lack of supervision. Physical neglect includes, but is not limited to, failure to provide the youth with food, clothing, or the shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the youth. Other reasons can include the parents are incarcerated or abandoned the youth.
How many youth are in Nebraska foster care?
More than 6,000 children and teens are in foster care in Nebraska. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services updates the data of current youth being served here. According to a 2017 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, the number of children in the foster care system nationally continues to increase. Most government agencies and journalists attribute the rise, in part, to increased parental substance abuse. Of the 15 categories states can report on for the circumstances associated with a youth’s removal from home and placement into care, drug abuse by a parent had the largest percentage point increase. Neglect as a circumstance for removal has also been increasing.
What is the main goal of foster care?
The first goal of foster care is to safely reunite youth with their biological families as soon as possible. The most common outcome for youth in Nebraska foster care is a safe reunification with their families. Nationwide, more than half of youth who enter foster care are safely reunified. The average length of time a youth is in foster care is about a year, but much of this is dependent on how long it takes for the family to resolve their conflicts or disruptions and demonstrate that their home is safe for their child or teen to return home.