Bill would extend foster care benefits to age 21

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Former Nebraska state wards and advocates are asking lawmakers to extend services for foster care youths that would allow them to receive assistance until they're 21.

Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill told the Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday that foster care youths leaving the system need state assistance because they're facing significant barriers while looking for employment and entering college.

State officials estimate that the plan would cost about $3.2 million in fiscal 2013. The federal government would contribute more than $3.5 million during the program's first year.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services opposes the bill. Child welfare division director Thomas Pristow says it would cost more than what has
been projected to offer Medicaid and case management support to wards age 19-21.

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