EXTENDING SERVICES AND SUPPORT TO 21 IN NEBRASKA: A Survey for Stakeholders Working in Child Welfare

Under the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections), states have the opportunity to claim federal matching funds for the costs of extending foster care services to eligible youth up to the age of 21. Several local organization have been exploring the possibility of adding Nebraska to the growing list of over a dozen other states who have taken advantage of this opportunity. In March 2012, Senator Amanda McGill introduced an interim study, LR 537, with the purpose of further exploring the challenges facing youth who age out of foster care. This survey is being distributed as a method of gaining input from stakeholders and professionals working in the field of child welfare for LR 537. A similar survey was conducted with over 100 youth this summer. Results from both the youth and stakeholder surveys will be compiled into a report with Nebraska-specific data regarding youth aging out each year and presented at the LR 537 hearing on October 25, 2012, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Nebraska State Capitol.

This 17 question survey is anonymous. It should take you 10-15 minutes to complete. Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee that this type of program will be created in Nebraska anytime in the near future, nor that specific program design options you may favor will become part of a program, if it is established. However, gaining input from a wide range of stakeholders is important in developing ideas and shaping services designed to improve the system for older youth. Your responses will be combined with those of other stakeholders and shared with policymakers and others who are working on designing this program.

Click below to view a one page summary of the highlights of an extended services and support to 21 program:
http://neappleseed.org/downloads560


THIS SURVEY WILL CLOSE ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE, PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR RESPONSE PRIOR TO OCTOBER 5TH.


    PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY

    The Fostering Connection Act allows federal matching funds for extended services and Medicaid coverage for young adults who “age out” of foster care, but Nebraska may want to explore including other groups of young adults. The Fostering Connections Act also allows for continued adoption/guardianship subsidies for youth who were adopted or who entered a guardianship at age 16 or older and who meet other program requirements. Medicaid coverage would also be included.
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    CASE MANAGEMENT

    In this program, the caseworker’s role of would be very different from the role of caseworkers for children in foster care under the age of 19. Workers would be responsible for providing support in a completely young adult-directed way, so young adults would be able to choose the areas in which they needed help. The Fostering Connections Act requires that workers meet with their assigned young adults once a month to check in and make sure their needs are being met.
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    HOUSING OPTIONS

    This program would continue providing some financial support for housing costs of young people until the age of 21, similar to funding for children’s placements in the under 19 system. Housing options for these young adults can and should include more age/developmentally-appropriate, independent settings, including single or shared apartments, dorms, or renting a room in a home. There are options about what rules should be set and how monthly housing stipends can be handled for young adults living in these independent settings.
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    JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT

    Reviews every six months are required by the Fostering Connections Act. These can take the form of either: a) two case reviews each year, or b) one permanency review and one case review each year. Case reviews and permanency reviews must be developmentally appropriate and responsive to the needs of the young adult, focusing on areas such as ensuring young adults are safe in their housing situations, looking at what efforts DHHS has made in providing meaningful independent living skill services, and determining what progress has been made to prepare the young adult for independence on a projected date. There is flexibility under the federal Fostering Connections Act as to how these reviews are structured: it could be as formal as a hearing in front of a judge in a courtroom or as informal as a meeting with some other oversight group in a conference room, like the Foster Care Review Office or Mediation Center. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that the court is the only entity that can order DHHS to provide a service needed for the young adult.
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    FORMER WARD

    The Former Ward program in Nebraska currently provides assistance to college-bound young adults who age out of foster care until they turn 21. There are a few key differences between the Former Ward program, which is already offered, and the extended services and support to 21 program, which has not yet been created. In particular, the Former Ward program includes only young adults who are furthering their education, while the extended services and support to 21 program would also include those who are working or actively seeking work. The Former Ward program also does not offer youth-directed case management services, while a program of extended services and support would. Extended services and support would also continue adoption/guardianship subsidies for young adults who were adopted or who entered a guardianship at age 16 or older. To see a quick chart highlighting the differences between these two programs, copy/paste the link below into a new tab or browser window: http://neappleseed.org/downloads343
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