Unicameral passes LB 853, creating Bridge to Independence program for young people aging out of foster care

Last week, the legislature voted 42-0 to pass LB 853. Known casually as the “LB 216 Cleanup Bill,” this bill was written to implement the Young Adult Voluntary Supports and Services Act that last year’s LB 216 required.

Putting into effect several of the recommendations put forth by the Advisory Committee made up of youth, service providers, and policymakers, LB 835 accomplished several things, including:

  • Changing the program’s name to Bridge to Independence, which is the name that young people in foster care preferred
  • Naming the program’s caseworkers “Independence Coordinators” to more accurately reflect their role as a guide for young adults who are making their own decision. The bill also clarifies the types of things that Independence Coordinators should work on with young adults.
  • Requires that young people leaving the program are given information about community resources that can help them transition to independence.
  • Specifies how frequently young adults will receive information about their legal rights and the choice to request hearings
  • Requires Independence Coordinators to help young adults prepare for their 6-month case reviews and permanency review hearings
  • Specifies that Bridge to Independence supervisors have experience and specialized training working with adults who need transitional services
  • Encourages 6-month case review structure where the young adult plays a central and active role

Jacob Rusher, now a Family Finding Specialist with Lutheran Family Services, talked to Omaha’s KMTV about how these services would have make his own transition from foster care to adulthood smoother.

Watch Project Everlast youth testify in favor of the bill.

Why is Nebraska extending services to age 21?

Watch Gary Stangler of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative explain why programs like Bridge to Independence are so important.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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Posted in Teen/Early Adulthood

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