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Connections Newsletter

The Connections Newsletter is a publication of Nebraska Families Collaborative.

Black-Teen-Boy-Close-Up-2015Johnathan came into the foster care system when he was very young. He was adopted by his grandmother and then reentered the system when he was 12 years old. He had been placed in out-of-home care for five years in a variety of settings including hospitals, group homes, foster homes, and out-of-state placements.

Johnathan always talked about what it would be like to live in a family home instead of a group home. He dreamt of what it’d be like to learn how to cook dinner or go fishing. However, Johnathan had personal struggles that prevented him from many of these activities.

Nebraska Families Collaborative and its network of providers were able to come together to help Johnathan and his mother mend their relationship. Over time, they began to participate in family therapy where Johnathan was able to focus on his personal challenges and further restore his relationship with his mother. Through these sessions, Johnathan and his mother were able to overcome many obstacles that once kept them apart.

Based on the progress made, Johnathan’s team began talking about reunification. Yet, there were still barriers preventing Johnathan from returning home to his mother.

The family’s team of professionals collaborated and found solutions to overcome all of these barriers. Through the support of his team, Johnathan was also able to advocate for himself and used the therapeutic skills put in place to make the decision that he wanted to return home to his mother.

Through time, Johnathan and his mother were able to spend long visits together and he returned home permanently in April 2017. Johnathan is very happy now and continues to share his progress with his professional supports.

At this time, Johnathan has settled in to his new home. He recently graduated from high school, has started a summer job, and loves being outdoors.

Johnathan has begun to make long lasting relationships within his new community. In a few months, Johnathan’s family will no longer be involved in the juvenile court system, but many of the relationships and supports formed will continue.

Johnathan and his mother will also continue to work on their relationship, but with the support of his extended family, community, and case professionals, he has everything he needs to be successful.

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Thank you to everyone who helped make our 3rd annual Duffels 4 Dignity Drive a huge success! We raised nearly $10,000 between in-kind and cash donations! Because of your generous donations we will be able to continue to bring joy to youth by providing them with this very importnat belonging as they transition to foster care. 

We want to take a moment to thank the corporations that provided generous donations during our drive:

  • Adidas
  • Agron
  • Hyatt
  • J.D. Heiskell & Co.
  • Majors Plastic
  • Nebraska Beta Alumni Corporation
  • WoodmenLife

We also could not be successful without the support of our partners!

 Thank you to the businesses that particpated as drop off locations:

Apex Foster Care Inc., Boys Town, Child Connect, Child Saving Institute, KVC Behavioral Healthcare Nebraska, Nebraska Children's Home Society, NOVA Treatment Community, and OMNI Behavioral Health.

 

In addition, we would like to thank the following organizations for donating their time, talent and resources:

89.7 The River, Omaha Box Company, KETV, KIOS, The Morning Blend

 

 Still want to help? Here's how you can!

 

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Liscom foster familyCraig and Elizabeth Liscom (pictured at left with Michelle Adams, NFC Family Permanency Supervisor) are the kind of foster parents who embody the spirit of the "Amazing Foster Parent Award." Chosen from among hundreds of foster families in the greater Omaha community, they truly practice the mission of Nebraska Families Collaborative in their daily life through their care of children in foster care. As this year's winners, the Liscom's were delighted to be chosen knowing that there are many other foster families who are also doing great work, often going unrecognized for their efforts.

Craig and Elizabeth became licensed foster parents in September 2014 through Christian Heritage, one of Nebraska Families Collaborative's partner agencies that recruit, train, and support foster families. During their training, they demonstrated a desire to not only support foster children in their home, but also a strong desire to support and build a positive relationship with any biological family to a child in their home.

The Liscom's were nominated by multiple people for their remarkable support of an infant with special needs as well as for their commitment to building a positive relationship with the child's biological parents. Understanding the importance of the mother-child bond to an infant's development, they encouraged the mom to be involved in her baby's life as much as possible. They opened their home to the baby's mom to allow her to visit as often as six days a week, and involved her in all her child's medical appointments. They also invited the baby's father to have visits separate from the mom, hoping to build a positive relationship with him as well.

One of the biggest challenges foster parents face is building trust with the biological parents. Over time, Elizabeth has been able to develop a positive relationship with the baby's mom who now is one of the few people she trusts. Elizabeth has gone above and beyond to develop this trusting relationship by helping the mom with parenting skills during supervised visits and providing transportation so she can go to her child's doctor appointments. The Liscom's also help coach the mom on providing the special medical care her child needs. All of this they have done with patience and understanding.

When you see Elizabeth and Craig with the child, you can quickly see they love him like he's one of her own. They are avid advocates for his health and well-being, ensuring all his needs are met...including having a close relationship with his mom. If you were to spend one day with Craig and Elizabeth, you would understand how truly amazing they are.

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technology circle imageStrategic Goal #5: Identify and utilize technology that works for families and staff.

Living in today's day and age, we have access to a nearly limitless array of technology. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and daunting, but at Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC), we are looking at ways to use technology that enhance and improve how our staff are able to support children and families.

Two significant types of technology being implemented are iPhones and Mindshare software.


 

Smart Phone Technology Makes Smart Use of Time in the Field

During the fourth quarter of 2014, NFC distributed iPhones to all case management staff. The new phones provide staff with the mobility they need to do their jobs when they are out in the community and away from their desks. Smart phones give them access to work e-mails and other functional apps that help them work smarter, not harder. A mapping app helps case managers find locations for home visits with children, foster families, and family team meetings. A voice dictation app, called Dragon Speak, allows case managers to record notes about homes visits that are transcribed into a document that can be sent to their work email and accessed once back in their office.


 

Predictive Analytics Software Provides Real-Time Data for Decision-Making

NFC is implementing a data analytics tool developed by Mindshare Technology that uses existing data sources to develop automated and real-time dashboards to guide decision-making for agency leadership. Using a module called ICARESM (Immediate Case Accountability and Risk Escalation), NFC will be able to isolate cases that have a high probability of failure. This will allow agency leaders and caseworkers to take a proactive approach to improving case management practices at the right time, for the right reason.

“We’re excited about working with Mindshare and embracing new approaches to making best use of the data that exists within our systems. Using the right technology is yet another way we can improve outcomes for children and families,” says David Newell, President & CEO of NFC.

This technology allows data from various sources to be combined allowing for comprehensive insight into certain outcomes – outcomes that have greatly troubled child welfare systems for years, such as:

  • Failed reunifications
  • Aging out of the system without permanency
  • Crossing over into juvenile justice system
  • Has not/will not graduate
  • Runaways
  • Exposure to, or victims of, violence

Mindshare's ICARESM module has been deployed across the state of Florida and is in the process of being deployed in Alaska and Maine. We are excited to bring it to Nebraska to help children and families in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

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In 1988 President Reagan issued the first presidential proclamation that established May as National Foster Care Month--a time to recognize the role each of us plays in the lives of children and youth in foster care.

Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC) participated in events throughout the month of May to honor and acknowledge the families who give so much throughout the year. Acknowledging the important role foster families play in family reunifications and supporting children in foster care, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert made a formal proclamation of May as Foster Parent Appreciation Month.

On May 19, NFC hosted our Foster Parent Advisory Board meeting, which meets every other month and is run by foster parents in Douglas and Sarpy Counties of eastern Nebraska. This group has made it their mission to shine a positive light on being a foster parent. The Advisory group is working with NFC employees to create a video that will inspire others to become foster parents, helping the hundreds of foster children in need of loving, stable homes. NFC is also sponsoring 1 to 2 foster parents from the Advisory Board to the annual NFAPA Conference in June to bring back information on what other States are doing in regards to both foster and kinship care.

The month ended on a high note with NFC hosting its second annual Foster Parent Appreciation luncheon on Thursday, May 28. This was a great opportunity to recognize foster parents who are truly living our mission every day. More than 100 people attended the luncheon to help us celebrate the contributions of foster families across the greater Omaha metro area. Awards were given to foster families in five categories: Amazing; Family-Centered Practice; Forever Home; Kinship; and Still Fostering. An interagency committee reviewed the nominations we received from across the community, and selected winners for each category. Award winners include the following:

  • Amazing Award Winners: Craig & Elizabeth Liscom, Christian Heritage foster parents
  • Family-Centered Practice Award Winner: Janelle Butler, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska foster parent
  • Forever Home Award Winner: Pamela McCoy, Nebraska Families Collaborative kinship family
  • Kinship Award Winner: Kellie White, Nebraska Families Collaborative kinship family
  • Still Fostering Award Winner: Chris Merrell, KVC foster parent

Each foster care agency was also able to select one Amazing Award winner from among their foster families and recognize their contributions to their agency. These agency-specific award winners include the following:

  • Apex: Mary Nunn
  • Boys Town: Abby Barnes
  • Christian Heritage: Molly Blackburn
  • Children's Square: Bryan & Melissa Watson
  • Child Saving Institute: Michele & Joseph Buccheri
  • KVC: Marie Pilloud
  • Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska: Janelle Butler
  • Nebraska Children's Home Society: David & Marguerite Crowe
  • NOVA Treatment Community: Sharon Wright
  • OMNI Behavioral Health: Richard & Delores Pollock

Thank you to all the foster families who contribute so much of their time, resources, love and compassion every day to help children in foster care and their families. Click HERE to see the names of everyone who was nominated in 2015!

Thank you balloon notes  FP Appreciation Luncheon  Thank you balloon note 2 

FosterParentAppreciationInvite V2 040915-03

 

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Are You a Potential Foster Parent?

Loving, patient and caring foster families play an essential role in ensuring the healthy development, safety and well-being of children and are critical in our goal of strengthening families and reuniting children with their birth families whenever possible.

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Are You Considering Foster Adoption?

Adopting a child is a uniquely beautiful and powerfully emotional journey. Loving, compassionate individuals discover space in their hearts for children in need of a forever family. Our resources will help you get started on the road to adopting a child.

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Help Support Our Mission, Donate Today!

Your donation to NFC will directly help children and families in the Omaha community. Consider making a donation and help support those in need. All donations make a difference – every little bit counts! And, there is more than one way to donate!

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