OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A grassroots nonprofit advocating for Native youth in the child welfare system was recently granted a highly competitive prize to further their efforts.
In 1978 the Indian Child Welfare Act set federal regulations to prioritize the specific needs of native children and their communities, regulations that the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition aims to protect and upkeep here in Nebraska.
“The reality is that historical trauma continues to impact our families every single day," said Misty Frazier, executive director of the coalition. "With the child welfare system, and other systems, and other issues that Native families face, we are treating the symptoms of historical trauma.”
According to the Nebraska Foster Care Review Office's latest quarterly report Native children only make up 1.1% of the population, but make-up nearly 3.9% of foster children placed out of home or trial placement. They also make up nearly 5.9% of probation-supervised youth.
Native girls make up 10% of the children sent to a youth rehab and treatment center, the most restrictive type of placement and often the last option. Native boys make up 2.4% of that population.
The coalition aims to keep native children in the foster care system connected to their culture and community. They work with families to learn their rights, train care workers, and advocate for the children in and leaving the system.
One of their latest achievements was working to extend resources to native youths aging out of the system.
“For most of the tribes their age of majority is 18, and Bridge to Independence doesn’t start until they are 19, and so there was a one-year age gap," Frazier explained.
For their efforts, the coalition was recently awarded the Springboard Prize for Child Welfare. Only four applicants out of over 300 were granted the $200,000 prize.
The coalition plans to use the funds to continue their efforts for foster youth aging out of the system.