DHHS celebrates foster parents in May


Foster parents are being celebrated throughout the month of May, and Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services is thanking current and future foster families for sharing their hearts and homes with children in Nebraska.

May is recognized as National Foster Care Month.

“Foster parents open their home and heart to children each day, impacting many lives,” stated DHHS Administrator Nanette Simmons. “As a foster parent, an individual provides a safe nurturing home and must understand the trauma child or children placed in their care have been through. They meet the child’s needs, including food, clothing and shelter, build a positive relationship with the child, provide stability, and collaborate with biological families and other team members to do what is in that child’s best interest.”

As of May 7, about 1940 foster children and youth live with foster families across the state.

Foster care placements in Nebraska typically fall into one of three categories:

  1. Relative foster parents are persons who are related to the children by blood, marriage or adoption.
  2. Kinship foster parents are persons with whom the child or children have a significant pre-existing relationship, such as a neighbor or teacher.
  3. The third type are persons who choose to become licensed foster parents for children they have not previously known.

DHHS representatives said both kinship and relative placements can help lessen the trauma associated with being separated from the family home, by ensuring the child is placed with someone with whom they share some degree of familiarity.

According to the director of the Division of Children and Family Services, Matt Wallen, “The department is evaluating the development of additional training to support all foster parents, including kinship foster parents, relative foster parents and licensed foster parents not known to the child prior to placement, with the goal of further preventing the occurrence of abuse and maltreatment while in care,” he said. “A workgroup formed by the Nebraska Children’s Commission is looking at a variety of recommendations that will enable us to improve quality assurance procedures for all foster, adoptive and guardianship placements and strengthen the application process.”

All foster parents, including kinship foster parents, must participate in a home study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services or a designated foster care agency. As part of the home study process, background checks and interviews are conducted, and positive references are obtained. All Nebraska foster parents receive training on recognizing human trafficking, including both sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

For further information and to access other available resources, contact the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association at 1-800-772-7368.

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