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Nebraska organization sounds alarm over worsening foster care crisis

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Nebraska’s foster care crisis seems to be getting worse.

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 foster children, said that over the past six years the number of children in need of families has steadily increased.

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

Blue said the Legislature recently approved funding for financial support for foster families, but they still struggle with years of state underinvestment.

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

Blue said his team is working to make the process easier for foster families. He said all families should go to the CEDARS website if they want to help children in Nebraska.

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

It was already the second worst year in the past decade.

The American Society for the Positive Care of Children shared an article from a foster care expert addressing the issue.

Dr. John DeGarmo said that one of the main reasons for the sudden and large increase in the number of children who find themselves in this situation is due to an increase in the number of parents who use drugs.

This includes abuse of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and prescription drugs.

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

The Lancaster County Courthouse is hosting a get-together this Saturday to celebrate adoptive families while raising awareness.

Adopted children will receive backpacks filled with gifts. There will also be food and games from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

If you are interested in homestay placement and cannot make it to Saturday’s event, you can get more information here.