Nebraska Families and Youth in Care Gain Financial Skills — and Hope — in 100 Days

Posted August 28, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Young woman at ATM machine.

In Nebras­ka, the Casey Foun­da­tion’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive site — the Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion — lead a charge to strength­en the abil­i­ty of low-income fam­i­lies and youth aging out of fos­ter care to man­age mon­ey more effec­tive­ly. The local non­prof­it and its part­ner, Lift Up Sarpy Coun­ty, even assigned them­selves a dead­line: 100 days.

Buoyed by the exper­tise of finan­cial, gov­ern­men­tal and legal insti­tu­tions, the ini­tia­tive — called the 100-Day Chal­lenge — con­nect­ed with 50 fam­i­lies, includ­ing 81 young people.

By the 100-day mark, the initiative’s impact was clear:

  • 22 fam­i­lies obtained high­er-pay­ing jobs;
  • six fam­i­lies received loans to clear a debt or pur­chase an asset (with 12 fam­i­lies await­ing final approval for match­ing funds and loans);
  • six young adults enrolled in the Jim Casey Initiative’s Oppor­tu­ni­ty Pass­port®;
  • eight fam­i­lies obtained more afford­able hous­ing; and
  • 26 house­holds received legal help — such as assis­tance with wage gar­nish­ments and child sup­port and cus­tody chal­lenges — through Legal Aid of Nebras­ka.

We heard from a lot of par­tic­i­pat­ing fam­i­lies that they had more space for hope,’” says Jason Feld­haus, asso­ciate vice pres­i­dent at Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion. For many of the par­tic­i­pants in the pro­gram, the sys­tem­at­ic bar­ri­ers to finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty and lit­er­a­cy can be crush­ing. Through these oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn more about finan­cial man­age­ment and to gain access to crit­i­cal bank­ing prod­ucts and legal sup­port, par­tic­i­pants could bet­ter envi­sion and pre­pare for a long-term future for their families.”

Sarpy Coun­ty is the third-largest coun­ty in the state — and one of its wealth­i­est. Despite below-aver­age unem­ploy­ment and an expand­ing pop­u­la­tion, the county’s rel­a­tive afflu­ence presents both a chal­lenge and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to address the needs of low-income fam­i­lies and youth who expe­ri­ence the child wel­fare system.

The report Sarpy Coun­ty Data Walk 2018 indi­cates that the per­cent­age of coun­ty res­i­dents liv­ing below the pover­ty line has only recent­ly start­ed to decline after peak­ing at 6.8% in 2014. Data also indi­cate that an esti­mat­ed one in 10 res­i­dents were food insecure.

In Nebras­ka, the 100-Day Chal­lenge pro­vid­ed part­ners with new resources. For exam­ple, social work­ers learned about new inter­ven­tions to sup­port finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty and the local gov­ern­ment bet­ter under­stood the sys­temic bar­ri­ers fac­ing its residents.

Pio­neered by the Rapid Results Insti­tute, the 100-Day Chal­lenge is a mod­el that enables local com­mu­ni­ties to build momen­tum and devel­op part­ners in cre­at­ing change. 

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