The state of Nebraska has 3,400 children in the foster care system, and about 40 children in Otoe County need a permanent placement.
Makayla Schippert, recruitment coordinator for KVC Nebraska, visited the Nebraska City Rotary Club Wednesday afternoon to give club members information on what her agency does.
KVC Nebraska is a behavioral health agency that has the best interests of children as one of its main focuses.
KVC works with families to maintain safe and secure homes for children, and it also offers foster parenting training and follow-up to help children who cannot currently live with their birth families.
Schippert said that a child can be removed from his or her birth home if authorities determine the child is being abused physically, emotionally or sexually, or when he or she is being neglected.
When a child is removed from his or her birth home, Schippert said the first choice for placement is with a relative or a known family friend.
“We want to keep kids in their community whenever possible,” she said, so that children don’t have to be removed from their familiar surroundings, such as their school or the church they attend.
If relatives or friends cannot take the child in, Schippert said it is up to trained foster parents to take in the child and care for him or her until the parents have an opportunity to make their home safe for the child.
Fifty-one percent of children in Nebraska are able to return home to their families, said Schippert.
If a child cannot return home, he or she may be eligible for adoption, said Schippert.
About 400 children in Nebraska are currently in need of a permanent home, she said.
When looking for an adoptive placement, Schippert said KVC case workers first ask relatives and the child’s foster parents if they would be able to take in the child. If they cannot, adoptive parents must be found.
KVC has placed 3,000 children for adoption, said Schippert.
KVC takes its name from Kaw Valley Center, which was the region in Kansas the organization began more than 40 years ago, said Schippert.
When it opened in 1970, the organization was the Wyandotte Home for Boys.
The initials remained, said Schippert, as the organization expanded its services into Nebraska and other parts of the country.
Schippert said employees have come up with new words for the initials: Knowledge, Values and Connections.
Community members can help in three main ways, said Schippert.
The first is to become a foster parent. Potential foster parents must be at least 21 years old, have reliable transportation and be employed.
Applicants must pass a background check and attend 20 hours of training to qualify for a foster care license.
If foster parenting isn’t for you, Schippert said another way to help is to educate everyone about the need for foster parents. KVC can provide speakers for community organizations or clubs.
Finally, KVC appreciates donations, either monetary or material, said Schippert.
For more information on KVC services, call the Lincoln office at (402) 742-8800.
The Nebraska City Rotary Club meets at noon Wednesdays at the Eagles Club, 600 1st Corso. Lunch is served at noon, and guests pay $9.