A functioning child welfare system gets help to children and families who need it – but never makes a family’s situation worse with intervention.
At Nebraska Appleseed, we’re working to reform our state’s broken child welfare system. That means collaborating with government, lawmakers and communities on better policies and practices – and sometimes taking legal action to protect the rights of children.
Our children in the foster system are entitled to caring, safe homes; education; medical and mental health care; substance abuse treatment; and thoughtful case management.
Current Child Welfare Projects & Initiatives:
Nebraska’s child welfare system is at a crossroads following several ineffective reform initiatives attempted by the state. The Comprehensive Reform Project allows Appleseed to pursue targeted litigation, policy advocacy, and administrative or regulatory advocacy on systemic issues focused on comprehensive child welfare reform.
Annie E. Casey Presentations
Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Adulthood
In partnership with young people and other stakeholders, Appleseed advocates for Nebraska to take the federal option under the Fostering Connections Act to extend transition services and support to youth with foster care experience to the age of 21. We educate key decision makers about best practices for providing transition services to older youth, provide trainings and opportunities for youth to advocate for improvements to the system, and work to ensure current requirements around transition planning are being followed.
Policy Brief on Transition Planning – This Policy Brief covers the history of law around transition planning, clearly describes Nebraska’s current law, and addresses best practices in developing a written transition proposal. Several useful resources are included in the appendix and listed below.
Transition Proposal Checklist – This resource, created by Nebraska Appleseed, helps guide the process of developing a written transition proposal. It offers checklists of the many needs to be considered in the seven areas of transition planning required by Nebraska state law: education, employment, health, financial assistance, housing, relationship development, and adult services.
Youth Inventory – Created by Nebraska Appleseed, this one-page checklist lists the many important documents and other vital needs that should be met before a young person ages out or a case is closed to independent living.
Transition Toolkit – This transition proposal template was created by FosterClub, a national network for young people in foster care, and adapted by Nebraska Appleseed to follow the flow of Nebraska’s state law on transition planning. It can be utilized as a template for caseworkers or other advocates to use when writing a transition proposal. It should be noted that this Toolkit is not all-encompassing; in fact, it does not offer a section on adult services, which is required by state law.
Permanency Pact – Created by FosterClub and shortened by Nebraska Appleseed for ease of use, this resource serves as a supportive adult’s “pledge” to act as a lifelong support for a young person in foster care. Clearly defining the specific supports an adult is committed to offering helps clarify relationships and develop mutual expectations.
Nebraska Older Youth Stakeholders help launch national Success Beyond 18 campaign – Press Release
Children’s Behavioral Health
Nebraska Appleseed is working to address gaps in the behavioral health system for children. We advocate for broad-based systemic reform and, when necessary, pursue class-action litigation to enforce the rights of affected children.
Legal Resource Center
The goal of the Foster Care Reform Legal Resource Center is to engage child welfare attorneys in Appleseed’s reform efforts by helping them enforce constitutional and statutory rights and connect the legal and policy issues they see daily with system-level change in Nebraska’s foster care system.
The Legal Resource Center can assist juvenile court practitioners with the following:
- Legal research on constitutional or statutory issues implicating targeted systemic issues in the system
- Information on child welfare reform that is occurring across the state and nationally, including case law and legislative developments
- Co-counseling, intervention, and development of amicus briefs in selected cases involving systemic policy issues
- Nebraska child welfare listserv featuring regular updates and the opportunity to dialogue with other juvenile lawyers across the state on issues faced in your practice
- Resources including sample pleadings and briefs
- Collaborative trainings
In the News
Omaha World-Herald 03/06/2013
Lincoln Journal-Star 03/05/2013
Omaha World-Herald Op/Ed 02/12/2013