Foster care assistance age may increase

By: Brittany Paris

Sen. Amanda McGill plans to introduce a bill that she said will improve the outcome for young people making the transition between foster care and adulthood.

If passed, the bill would provide state-funded housing assistance, Medicaid, and a case worker for foster care youth under the age of 21. Currently, funding stops when the person turns 19.

Mickey Alder and Amanda Huxall have both aged out of foster care and believe this program would have benefited them.

“It would have given me a support team,” Huxall said. “I felt like I was in the dark, all by myself for so long, and having the option to call someone and (ask for help), I would've been very grateful.”

National research shows 50 percent of young people who age out of foster programs become homeless. They are also more likely to have unplanned pregnancies or go to jail.

Sen. Amanda McGill said this proposed program will replace the current one.

“When it comes to training, I mean, it isn't working,” Sen. McGill said. “Many of our kids aging out don't even know there is a former ward program. It's falling through the cracks with case workers right now.”

Nebraska Appleseed, a supporter of the bill, said many 18-year-olds leaving foster care do not know how to do tasks like find housing or make a doctors appointment.

Alder said the program will help people who are aging out of foster programs to avoid hardships.

“This program means a lot due to the fact that I faced many hardships when I was aging out of the foster care system,” Alder said. “It's going to reduce the effects that happen to foster care individuals because it helps them advance in successful ways and not become a negative statistic.”

This was just a hearing. The bill needs to be approved by a committee before it could make it to the floor for debate.