Foster Care 101- Part 1

*This information is for foster care based in Nebraska. Other states may have different regulations or processes.

So you’ve been watching from the sidelines for awhile. Maybe you’ve been waiting for your littlest to grow a few years older. Maybe you’ve been waiting until the extra bedroom is added on. Maybe you have friends who are foster parents and you see the struggles and the joy little ones bring to their family. Your family is curious, nervous and excited about what foster care is all about. Over the next few weeks, we will be giving you a glimpse of what foster care looks like from the inside.

Children are removed from their homes and put into foster care for a variety of reasons. In the State of Nebraska, most children are removed from their home due to neglect (not providing necessities like food, safe housing, etc). Neglect accounts for 1,730 children in care between 2014 and 2015. The second leading factor is parental drug abuse, which accounted for 1,089 children in care in the same year. Typically, someone (teachers, counselors, neighbors, daycare providers, friends, etc) makes a report through the hotline (1-800-652-1999), making the State aware of the situation. In Nebraska, everyone is a mandated reporter. All calls are confidential, and their system ranks situations to determine how quickly a response should be made (if at all.) If a child is in immediate danger, police will come to the location. Police officers are always present when children are removed from their home. Usually, an “Initial Assessment” worker is also present. This is the first caseworker a family will have. This caseworker is responsible for locating all of the services necessary immediately to meet the children and families needs, including foster care and visitation.

In Nebraska, the Department of Health and Human Services oversees the foster care system. Caseworkers manage cases by making referrals to various agencies to provide the services families need. Mostly, caseworkers are not providing foster care support or supervising visits. Instead, they are orchestrating a team by writing a case plan and advising the best course of action to provide safety and permanency for children. Compass is an agency that is a part of this team of professionals. Our Foster Care team recruits, trains, licenses and supports foster families. Our Family Services team provides family services and supervised visitation for biological families seeking reunification with their children by helping parents meet the goals outlined in their case plan. Other members on this team include: the biological parents, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA workers), Guardian adLitems (lawyers appointed to represent the best interest of the child), parents’ attorneys, and any other supports the family may have (teachers, school counselors, and therapists, etc.)

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, follow along in this series or contact us (308)237-4085 for information on how to get started.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.