Nebraska has increased its number of foster parents but challenges remain

Care for vulnerable children depends in considerable measure on adults stepping forward to become foster parents. Many states unfortunately struggle to meet this need.

The number of foster families decreased in at least 15 states during 2017-18, according to a report by the Chronicle of Social Change. The decline in some states exceeded 20%.

In addition, a new federal law will soon limit funding for group homes, to spur states to focus more on placement with relatives and foster parents. In response to these challenges, many states are increasing outreach efforts to recruit foster parents.

Nebraska shows significant positives as well as negatives involving foster parents. The state has made notable progress in increasing the number of placements with relatives, according to the state Foster Care Review Office. The percentage of Nebraska foster youths living with relatives increased from 12% of the foster care population in 2012 to 33% in 2016. That’s better than the national average of 29%.

» In contrast to the declines in many states, Nebraska increased its number of non-relative foster families during 2017-18, going from 1,625 to about 1,700.

» In 2012, Nebraska had 98 African-American foster families; by 2016, the figure had risen to 391. The number of Hispanic foster care families increased to 133, up from 42.

» Overall, the number of Nebraska children in foster care fell from 5,591 in 2008 to 3,165 in 2018.

At the same time, the foster care system in Nebraska continues to face major challenges. Problems include multiple caseworker changes for foster youths, excessive changes in youth placement and a high removal rate from the home compared …

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