Foster youth activities approved

A bill designed to normalize life for Nebraska’s foster youth was approved April 12 by the Legislature.

LB746, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell, implements a federal law designed to promote normalcy for foster youth and encourage their involvement in developmentally appropriate activities.

Under the bill, a prudent parent standard will be developed for caregivers—whether in-home or in an institutional setting—that will allow caregivers to use their best judgment in making day-to-day decisions about participation in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural and social activities for youth in their care. To the extent possible, birth parents also will be involved in such decisions.

The bill requires the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to ensure that foster children age 14 and older are made aware of their rights and responsibilities before aging out of the system.

The department also must provide foster youth a copy of the individual’s birth certificate, Social Security card, medical, financial and educational records, family contact information and a list of local community resources relevant to them.

Juvenile courts are required to ensure that children in foster care are able to engage in normal activities and to make certain findings part of a child’s record. The bill also establishes the Normalcy Task Force, with members appointed by the Nebraska Children’s Commission.

The bill extends the termination date of the commission to June 30, 2019, and specifies that no member may have a private financial interest, profit or benefit from any of the commission’s work. It also requires the commission to develop a system of care plan and analyze case management workforce issues.

LB746 passed on a 48-0 vote.

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