Get involved! Check out all of the opportunities to engage in your own community and neighborhood, in Nebraska, and across the country.
Nebraska's Connected Youth Initiative hopes, through policy, advocacy, and civic engagement, is that Nebraska policymakers, state agencies, community leaders, and young people co-create and strengthen an older youth system in Nebraska that values inclusion, prevention, and upward mobility for all young people.
Learn about ways young people have made their voices heard here!
Current Bills and Resolutions Impacting Transition-Aged Youth
LB 159: A bill for an act relating to postsecondary education; to adopt the Fostering Independence Higher Education Grant Act. Individuals with foster care experience in Nebraska that have graduated from high school or completed high school equivalent and is eligible may apply for and receive a grant for undergraduate study to cover all qualified expenses of attending college.
LB 14: A bill to change provisions under the Young Adult Bridge to Independence Act (B2i).
LB 306: Youth in Care Bill of Rights, which would establish basic rights for young people in foster care, YRTC or youth detention centers including freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination, information about medical decisions and much more.
LB 127: Eliminates life sentences for felonies committed by those under the age of 18.
For opportunities and support to testify on any of these bills, contact Lincoln Arneal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connected Youth Initiative Advocacy Opportunities
CYI Youth Advisory Board: A group of young people from across Nebraska that advocate for change for youth within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in Nebraska. Members stay informed about issues impacting Nebraska transition-aged youth and young adults and make recommendations to Connected Youth Initiative system partners. Membership applications are accepted two times per year and members serve for 12 months. Applications will be posted to the Current Opportunities page.
Nebraska Probation Youth Council: A group of young people interested in working on Nebraska juvenile justice system reform and recommendations.
Youth Action Board: A group of young people, aged 16-24, that have experienced housing instability and/or homelessness and want to create systems change in Nebraska to make it a place where young people live and thrive. Meetings are monthly.
Emerging Leaders Parent Advisory Committee: A group of young parent or expectant parent leaders across Nebraska, ages 16-26, interested in advocating for policy and practice change for expectant and parenting youth and young adults in Nebraska’s systems of care. Meetings are monthly via Zoom.
CYI Youth Chapters - Statewide: Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) Youth Chapters serve as a resource for transition-aged youth and young adults to build social connections and leadership skills in their own community. Young people receive support and training from Advisors and Adult Supporters within these chapters to find and use their voice for change. Young people also build their own advocacy skills to make an impact not only in their community and neighborhood, but also at a state and national level through various opportunities for leadership. Find your local CYI Youth Chapter here.
Speaker's Bureau: Youth-led and designed panels and presentations feature young leaders - just like you - who not only know how to share their personal stories, but also share action items for the audience to create meaningful change. YOU can make a difference!
Partner and provider organizations interested in hosting a youth panel by the Speaker's Bureau, please contact Lincoln Arneal, Assistant Vice President of Youth Leadership, at email@example.com.
Legislative Days, held in February every year, are an opportunity for young leaders from across the state to convene and learn about the legislative process, give input on current Nebraska legislation, gain advocacy skills needed to change laws and policies based on lived experiences, and speak with Nebraska State Senators and the Governor. This multi-day event is also a chance to develop social connections with other young people, build public-speaking skills, and have fun!
Other Advocacy Opportunities:
- Nebraska Appleseed Summer Internship Program: Part-time, paid positions working to conduct research projects, assist with advocacy and public policy, help with community outreach and education, and provide general office support.
- Voices for Children in Nebraska Semester Internship (not currently looking for an intern, but updates will be posted when available)
- Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Foster Youth Internship Program®: Part-time, paid, summer congressional internship for young adults who spent time in the foster care system. FYI Program Interns work in Washington D.C. to research policy issues affecting children and youth in the U.S. foster care system
- National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) Congressional Shadow Day: Partnership with the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth to host foster youth and alumni of care (ages 18-30) in Washington, D.C., where they’re paired with their Congressmembers for a day. The delegates — young adults from across the country — spend a week in D.C. gaining a better understanding of the role Congress plays in child welfare policy and attending workshops and trainings to learn how they can make their voices heard on issues they care about. This program is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 who has experience in foster care and is eager to take on an active role in transforming the child welfare system. To be notified when applications are accepted, visit this page.
Foster Care Alumni of Nebraska
Foster Care Alumni of America is a national advocacy group with regional chapters. Nebraska has a chapter and you can connect here! The Nebraska Chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America believes that all people in and from foster care are connected, empowered, and flourishing.
Past Policy Implementation
LB216 - Extended Foster Care & Establishment of Bridge to Independence - B2i (2013): Signed by Nebraska Governor Heineman in 2013, this legislation provides state funding for independent living services, foster family reimbursement, medical insurance, housing vouchers and case management for youth leaving care to the age of 21. Now implemented, youth in Nebraska between 19 and 21 have ongoing support while they finish high school, get established in college or enjoy employment. The goal is to set young people up for success and help them and their child(ren) thrive! The passage of this legislation was a result of combined efforts from Nebraska Youth Leaders, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, and committed advocates at Nebraska Appleseed.
LB 941 - Nebraska Youth in Care Bill of Rights (2020): This legislation was drafted with input from more than 20 young leaders and advocates with direct foster care and juvenile justice experience. The Bill of Rights includes rights to ensure youth in care are receiving services, staying connected to their families, and being supported as they prepare to transition into adulthood and requires that youth are made aware of their rights and strengthens the system for reporting when these rights are not being met.
LB 357 - Create the Nebraska Youth in Care Bill of Rights (2021): Ensures youth are expressly informed of their rights at regular intervals, in age-appropriate language, by their respective caseworker.
Medicaid to Age 26 - The Affordable Care Act (2010) signed into law by President Obama in 2010, makes sure that Americans have affordable health insurance coverage. One part of the ACA focuses specifically on youth who were formerly in foster care. Many young adults who were in foster care at age 18, or aged out of foster care at 19, may be eligible to receive Medicaid coverage until they are 26.
Want to get involved in statewide youth advocacy?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the "Current Opportunities" on this site to sign-up!
Want to receive monthly emails about current opportunities for leadership and advocacy? Email: email@example.com and request “youth leadership current opportunities”
Want to learn about Connected Youth Initiative's policy and practice change efforts?
Visit: Nebraska Children and Families Foundation