A proposal to improve payments to Nebraska foster parents was modified before moving Friday to final reading.
The bill (LB530), introduced by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, is intended to bring foster care reimbursement rates in line with other states, and to ensure the state has enough foster families in the future. Dubas has said the state has one of the worst foster care payment rates.
With an amendment that was adopted, the Foster Care Reimbursement Rate Committee would continue when and if the Children's Commission would expire. It would also help ensure that providers' contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services continue so progress is made in stabilizing the child welfare system.
"It's intent language but it's my hope that it sends a message to the department that we need to be very careful about where we're going and the direction we're going," Dubas said.
A pilot project with both an urban group and a rural group would provide an accurate estimate of the effectiveness and cost of implementing the rates statewide.
With the bill, the new rates would go into effect in the 2014-15 fiscal year. It would cost the state about $2 million in general funds and $214,000 in federal funds.
Recommended rates for families with the youngest foster children -- ages birth to 5 -- would go from $436 to $608 per month. Rates for children ages 6 to 11 would go from $594 to $699, and for youths ages 12 and older rates would increase from $711 to $760.