Certain state wards who have aged out of the foster care system may continue to receive services until age 21 under a bill passed May 29.
LB216, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill, allows eligible youth to enter into a voluntary foster care agreement with the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for extended services, including:
• postsecondary education assistance;
• continued foster care maintenance payments;
• placement in a foster home, institution or independent living; and
• continued case management to help access additional supports.
Eligibility is limited to former state wards ages 19 to 21 and excludes those who entered the foster care system through the Office of Juvenile Services. Youth in foster care will receive information about the program at age 16.
To qualify for the program, an applicant will need to be:
• employed for at least 80 hours per month;
• enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education;
• completing a secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential;
• participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; or
• incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition.
Implementation of the program will not begin until the DHHS state plan amendment receives federal approval. If the federal government denies the state plan amendment, the bill requires DHHS to implement a $2 million, state-only version of the program as a pilot project.
The bill also creates the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support Advisory Committee. The Nebraska Children’s Commission will provide appointment to and oversight of the advisory committee.
LB216 passed 44-2 and takes effect immediately.