Nebraska Families Collaborative Blog

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Join two of the leading experts on the topic of working together to achieve transformative outcomes.

OMAHA, (Neb.) Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and Tracy Wareing Evans, president and CEO of the American Public Human Services Association will explore the power of generative partnerships and the detailed evidence of what they can achieve at a presentation to be held at Boys Town. The event is open to the public.

WHO: Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
Tracy Wareing Evans, president and CEO of the American Public Human Services Association

WHAT: Presentation on the Power of Generative Partnerships

WHEN: July 25, 2017
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Boys Town
National Headquarters Auditorium
14100 Crawford Street
Boys Town, NE 68010

WHY: Generative partnerships are something greater than collaborative efforts around single initiatives; their aim is something bigger and their potential impact can be transformative. Dreyfus and Wareing Evans will speak about the process of putting together a dynamic partnership in order to achieve true generative results.

RSVP: Registration is free, but space is limited. RSVP to Tracy Greymont at tgreymont@alliance1.org or (414) 359-6524, no later than Friday, July 14, to attend.

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Nebraska Families Collaborative is hosting our first annual "Freshen Up for School" Aftercare Event! This back-to-school event is for our 350+ active Aftercare children to prep for the new school year by providing them with personal hygiene products, new socks and underwear, and haircuts. You can help us raise money for this great event! Here's how:

Attend any public Paint Nite Event! It's simple! First, find an event you want to attend near you on Paint Nite. Then, use our fundraiser code, VF-2017BTS, at checkout and Paint Nite will donate $15 for every ticket bought with our code between now and July 15th.

Unable to attend a Paint Nite event? You can still help support our cause by making a donation to the "Freshen Up for School" Aftercare Event. Click here to make a donation today! 

All money raised will be used for this year's "Freshen Up for School" Aftercare Event. Thank you for your support!

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Pinwheel-Plant-2017April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month. More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse, many under the age of four. It's important for communities to work together to raise awareness and play a role in helping prevent child abuse. Visit the Boys Town website to learn some of the indicators of abuse. 

One way to bring awareness is Pinwheels for Prevention, Prevent Child Abuse. Nebraska Families Collaborative participated again this year in planting blue and silver pinwheels outside of our office building in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April. You'll notice blue and silver pinwheels around many communities this month recognizing this national awareness effort. Learn more about Pinwheels for Prevention by visiting the Prevent Child Abuse America webpage.

Working together, we can help children locally and all across our country. 

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At our Community Partners Meeting on August 17, our very own Sarah Hayek presented on school success for foster youth at each of the major school districts in our area, particularly about the impact of school placement changes on the academic success and graduation rate of children in foster care. This is such an important topic, we wanted to share it with everyone who couldn't make it to hear her speak on the issue in person. Read through a summary of her presentation below!

Key Notes: 

Bellevue Public Schools
Nebraska Families Collaborative was working with a youth about to turn 19 years old and who was on an IEP (individual education plan), allowing her to attend school until she is 21 years old. This youth wanted to obtain her high school diploma vs. getting a GED. We worked with the Bellevue Director of Student Services, Kevin Mills, to get her enrolled and started at Bellevue Public Schools so she wouldn't have to change schools after her 19th birthday.

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Millard Public Schools
Nebraska Families Collaborative was trying to find a way to help a youth transition to her Middle School along with her elementary school classmates and friends. The hindrance was an after school daycare. Bill Jelkin, with Millard Public Schools, became involved and went out of his way to get the local daycare to provide an exception to having an adult sign the youth into daycare so that she could walk across the street from her Middle School to her after school program.

 

Papillion La Vista Schools
A youth and his half-brother were placed with his brother's biological father, who lived in Council Bluffs. The youth's parents both wished to have their son remain in Papillion La Vista School district. Paul Bohn, with Papillion La Vista Schools, collaborated with Nebraska Families Collaborative over a number of hours to assist in getting the right paperwork filled out so that the youth would be ‘optioned’ into 
Papillion La Vista and could continue at his regular elementary school.

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Omaha Public Schools: 
Nebraska Families Collaborative was working with a youth who had completed all necessary requirements to graduate early while living at Uta Halee. She wanted to be able to partake in graduation ceremonies with her Omaha South companions. Tyree Sejkora, with Omaha Public Schools, assisted in communications with district personnel to gain permission for her to walk with her graduating class!
 
Westside Community Schools: 
When Nebraska Families Collaborative (or any organization) has youth who cannot get to school at Westside for one reason or another, Sarah Fehringer (social worker with Westside) has taken it upon herself to transport the child to school for a temporary solution so their education is not disrupted!
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Gretna Public Schools: 
Deb Seimers with Gretna Public Schools worked with Nebraska Families Collaborative so that a youth in foster care, who has always been a “Gretna Dragon,” was able to maintain his enrollment at GPS even though he had moved out of the district.
      
Elkhorn Public Schools: 
Anne Doerr, Director of Student Services with Elkhorn Public Schools, assisted with providing transportation for a youth who has always been an Elkhorn student. This ensured he could get to/from his same school even though he moved out of the district and Elkhorn Public Schools was not required to provide transportation.
 


Ralston Public Schools:
 

Marilee Cloonan and Steve Snodgrass are the only two social workers for Ralston Public Schools. Between them they share all the Ralston school buildings. They are always up-to-date on information regarding Nebraska Families Collaborative youth and are willing to collaborate and share information as needed to make sure teams are pulled together to help make the best decisions for youth in their school district!

     

  

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In early June we celebrated the hard work and dedication of foster families with our annual Foster Parent Appreciation Luncheon. Each of our partner agencies recognized a Foster Parent of the Year and Kinship Caregiver of the Year, and we selected overall winners for the year chosen from hundreds of Foster and Kinship families in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. This year we were proud to recognize Danelle and Tracey McHenry as Foster Parents of the Year and Jessica Jenney as Kinship Caregiver of the Year.

We also had keynote speaker, Lisa Batenhorst, speak at the luncheon. As the VP of Nebraska/Iowa Family Services at Boys Town, she touched on what it means to be a foster parent, opening her inspirational speech with:

“I know I am surrounded today by talented, dedicated and truly amazing people, all of whom I am quite certain have a beautiful soul and lots of stories and hidden gray hair. There is never a perfect time to be a foster parent, and each of you took a leap of faith to do this even though there were likely many reasons to wait or not foster.  Everyone here has earned a medal of bravery, or impulsiveness!”

Lisa told how she was a foster parent herself, which led to adopting two children. She described how it was one of the most rewarding and most challenging experiences of her life, and shared some of the lessons she learned, summarized below.

  1. Do everything you can to partner with and get to know the biological family of your foster child.
    When you get your foster children, you can hear some terrible stories. Abusive and neglectful parents often love their kids and do the best they can, and a lot of them CAN do better if they get help and support. Come up with a plan to have purposeful communication and start on start a healthy relationship and communication with the family.

  2. Have Low Expectations.
    Explaining and discussing your family’s lifestyle and rules is important, but don’t expect any child to mold to what you expect in 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months. You don’t know what they’ve been through. Some things are easy to change, and some seem insurmountable. This doesn’t mean you don’t teach, encourage, support, and work to shape their behavior. Just be patient.

  3. You might want to take a chance and listen to your heart when you are looking at a placement and what works for your family.  Once you commit, you are committed.
    My daughter wanted a sister, and I thought I wanted girls as well, but we had girls twice before realizing that wasn’t best for our family. I also said I would never adopt, but we ended up adopting two older boys with behavior disorders and it was one of the best decisions our family.

Lisa ended her speech by thanking the foster parents in the room. “Making a difference by impacting the lives of people is what life is about. And each of you here do that. You joyfully and generously share your time, patience, talent and love to help others.”

A huge thank you to Lisa for her moving speech and to all of the foster families opening their homes and their hearts to children in need!

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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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