Nebraska organization raises alarm over worsening foster care crisis

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Nebraska’s foster care crisis appears to be worsening.

Nearly 500 children in our state are waiting to be adopted by a safe and loving family.

CEDARS, a Nebraska nonprofit working with families and kids in foster care, said that for the last six years, it’s seen a constant increase in the number of kids in need of a family.  

“Last year at this time, we had 177 kids in our foster care program,” President Jim Blue said. “Today we’re sad but yet proud to have 260 kids in our care. That’s a 47% increase.” 

Blue said the Legislature recently approved funding for financial support to foster care families, but they are still struggling with years of underinvestment from the state. 

“It’s very complex,” he said. “For years, the State of Nebraska has underinvested in early intervention systems that can strengthen the families when the child is very young.” 

Blue said his team works to make the process for foster families easier. He said all families need to do is go to CEDARS’ website if they are interested in helping Nebraska children.

As of the end of October, there have only been 296 adoptions in Nebraska this year.  At the current rate, we’re on track to have around 40 fewer adoptions than last year.

That was already the second-worst year in the last decade.

The American Society for the Positive Care of Children shared an article by a leading foster care expert addressing the problem.

Dr. John DeGarmo said a major reason for the sudden and large increase of kids winding up in this situation is due to a rise in parents doing drugs.

That includes heroin, meth, cocaine and prescription medicine abuse.

The state is also trying to correct this troubling trend.  November is National Adoption Month, and the Department of Health and Human Services is promoting events all across our state.

The Lancaster County Courthouse is hosting a meetup this Saturday to celebrate adoptive families while also raising awareness.

Children who’ve been adopted will receive backpacks full of gifts.  There will also be food and games from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

If you’re interested in foster care and can’t make it to Saturday’s event you can learn more information here.

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