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Report: Nebraska Struggling to Help Foster Youths Transition to Adulthood

Many young people living in foster care get bounced from home to home, which disrupts their relationships with family, friends and counselors and can make it harder to graduate from high school. (Pixabay)
Many young people living in foster care get bounced from home to home, which disrupts their relationships with family, friends and counselors and can make it harder to graduate from high school. (Pixabay)
November 15, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Young adults who experienced foster care in Nebraska are struggling as they transition to adulthood, according to a new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Rebecca Daugherty, an intern with Voices for Children in Nebraska, aged out of the state's foster care system, so she doesn't have a family to turn to for support.

She says the state needs to step up its efforts to help young people transition to living independently as an adult.

"At one point, I was working three jobs to try to keep safe and stable housing, and that made focusing on my classes really difficult, which is just an example of the difficulties that youths have to face once they've been in care and don't have those family supports," she relates.

Foster youths in Nebraska are less likely than their peers nationwide to have stable housing.

Fewer than 6 in 10 obtained their high school diploma or GED by age 21, compared with nearly 8 in 10 nationally.

Nebraska scored above average on providing vocational training and helping youths find jobs.

The state also does a good job overall placing youths in family-based settings, but the report found minority youths are far more likely to end up in group homes.

Jason Feldhaus, vice president of the Nebraska Children's Connected Youth Initiative, says because foster youths experience much greater instability during their adolescent years, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to long-term problem solving and building strong social bonds with adults when they transition out of foster care.

"They move from home to home to home, instability with their schools, instability with work life, instability with friends,” he points out. “And so they're constantly trying to redevelop surface relationships just to get through the day."

Feldhaus adds that although the state has made strides in improving outcomes for foster youths, there's still work to do.

He says Nebraska's policymakers can start by asking tough questions that will help improve the state's ability to collect and report child welfare data.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE