The Lincoln Saltdogs contacted NFAPA about their "Non-Profit Ticket Program" This wonderful program is sponsored by corporate sponsors that helps kids and families that normally would not be able to attend a Saltdogs game be a reality.
We have some complimentary tickets available for the July 26th game! There are a limited number. If a foster/adoptive family would like to attend, please contact Felicia at 877-257-0176. It will be on a first come/first serve basis. THANK YOU, SALTDOGS!
MEET OUR NEW RESOURCE FAMILY CONSULTANT, DEIRDRE NICHELSON!
SOUTHWEST SERVICE AREA
I have been married to my husband, Ross, for over 10 years. He works for the UPRR, and adopted my two daughters, Katelyn and Kiersten, after we married. A few years later we became foster parents and our family has been so blessed! Ross and I adopted our son, Chet, in 2008 and our daughter, Maliya, in 2012. This past January, we took guardianship of a third Foster Child. With five children and a grandson who is less than a year old, my life is full of “wonderful chaos.” I like to scrapbook and read when I have the time, but most of my time is spent tending to my family.
I am an LPN, but chose to leave nursing a year ago in order to provide the emotional support my family needed here at home. Nursing is a demanding profession that often requires working odd hours, long shifts, holidays and weekends. For our family, we found it to be a better choice to tighten the purse strings and have one parent home full-time. It hasn’t always been easy, but I haven’t regretted my decision. Our youngest will be starting Kindergarten in the fall, and I am looking forward to working part time again. I am passionate about Foster Parents and the children we serve. Two of my children have special needs, and I advocate for all children who have unique challenges, especially those in our foster care system. I look forward to working for NFAPA and with the families in my area.
FROM NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children)
We recently received the following update from the IRS with news about the 2012 adoption tax credit:
• Taxpayers who plan to claim the adoption credit will not be able to file their return until late February or early March. The IRS is still updating their computer systems due to the late legislation. .... an announcement will be placed on IRS.gov when the Service is able to process the form.
• The Form 1040 federal tax return and the Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, must still be mailed to the IRS. The Service was unable to convert the Form 8839 to an electronic format this year.
• Taxpayers must maintain supporting documentation when filing their return. They are not required to attach these documents to their return this year.
For additional information, visit http://www.irs.gov/ and type Adoption Credit in the Search box
Read more about the adoption tax under Education/Training Tab and the Adoptive Parent Education.
November was National Adoption Month!-National Adoption Day is an effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for permanent, loving families. Here in Nebraska we had adoption celebrations in November & December.
Thank you to all of the families that opened their heart & home this year and provided a forever family for a child/children!
National Adoption Day is officially recognized on the Saturday before every Thanksgiving. Mark your calendars for November 23, 2013.
CFS Service Areas Change in Response to LB 961
CFS Service Areas Change
in Response to LB 961
Lincoln– An alignment of Children and Family Services service areas with district court judicial districts to meet the requirements of LB 961 was announced Monday (5/21) by Thomas Pristow, CFS director with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The geographical change in the CFS service areas will be effective July 1, he said. Meetings were held Monday with staff working in the 15 counties that will change to a different service area.
The boundary of the Central Service Area will include Brown, Boyd, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha and Rock counties currently in the Northern Service Area.
The boundary of the Northern Service Area will include Hamilton and Merrick counties currently in the Central Service Area, and Butler, Polk, Saunders, Seward and York counties currently in the Southeast Service Area.
The boundary of the Southeast Service Area will include Clay and Nuckolls counties currently in the Central Service Area.
The Western and Eastern service areas retain their current boundaries.
“The boundary changes will assure the continuity of service area offices with the courts,” Pristow said. “In addition, this geographical alignment of the service areas will help provide clarity and enhance our ability to work more efficiently with the courts in order to improve outcomes for children and their families.”
He said most families will see no change in service. In a few cases, a caseworker or supervisor may change. “Our priority will be to make this change seamless for our families.”
The current work location of employees will not change at this time, he said, and implementation of the new alignment will occur over the next several weeks.
Another provision of LB 961 requires a reduction in workers’ caseload sizes. Pristow said DHHS is advertising to hire new case workers, supervisors, case aides and resource development staff to work in the Western, Central, Northern and Southeast service areas to meet that requirement.
Across the state, 174.5 workers will be hired, Pristow said. That number includes 111 employees in the Southeast Service Area previously employed by a private contractor as well as staff necessary to meet LB 961’s caseload size requirement. The Western Service Area will hire 10 workers, Central Service Area 8.5 workers and Northern Service Area 16 workers.
“It will take at least six to eight weeks before new employees are hired and begin training,” he said. “These increases ensure caseload ratios will be consistent across the state and will allow all service areas to meet the caseload requirements in LB 961.”
NFC, a private contractor, is responsible for case management and service coordination in the Eastern Service Area, and is expected to comply with the same caseload size requirements, he said.
“Reduced caseload size will provide staff with the opportunity to do their work much more effectively and focus on the basis of providing solid social work to our families,” Pristow said.
Here is the new Service Area Map.
2013 NFAPA Scholarship Winner!
The Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Parent Association offers a scholarship for an adoptive, foster, guardianship or kinship child who wishes to further their education beyond high school or GED. This can be either at a college or university, vocational and job training or on-line learning.
The Lincoln Community Foundation manages over 50 scholarship funds that benefit students across the state of Nebraska. Check their website later this month (December) for more information about their 2013 scholarship opportunities. The deadline for applications will be late March 2013. Last year, they had the new Mildred Fry Scholarship for students in foster care in Lincoln (Lancaster County). There were requirements but they had three $2000 awards! Contact them at
Phone: 402-474-2345 Fax: 402-476-8532 www.lcf.org
Just a reminder! There are generous scholarships offered to students in foster care in the State of Nebraska by the Mildred Fry Scholarship Fund at the Lincoln Community Foundation. Three awards of $2,500.00 are available this year to students who meet minimum admissions criteria and plan to enroll in a 2 or 4 year college or university within 6 months of graduation from high school. Previous recipients may reapply by submitting another application.
Students go to their website at http://www.lcf.org and take advantage of this opportunity if you are eligible. Students can submit online applications for the scholarships on their website.
EducationQuest Scavenger Hunt Scholarship!
Complete the EducationQuest Scavenger Hunt and you might win $500 toward your college education. Deadline is 3/31/13. Go to http://www.educationquest.org/11th-12th-grade-students/scavenger-hunt-scholarship/ for more information.
2013 Horatio Alger Scholarship
Application deadline was October 25, 2012. Remember to look again next year!
Questions? Email: HoratioAlger@act.org or call toll free at
866-763-9228 for application info.
The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) also has a Youth Scholarship Fund for NFPA members. They have up to 5 scholarships available. http://nfpaonline.org/nfpascholarship.
Other Scholarship Opportunities
(listed on NFPA site at http://nfpaonline.org/youthscholarship)
The American Educational Guidance Center recommends looking at their page for 60 no-cost scholarship search sites: http://www.college-scholarships.com/free_scholarship_searches.htm
Several Nebraska residents and child welfare advocates have contributed to the recently released, The Foster Parenting Toolbox. At a time when the state’s child welfare system is in the spotlight as it struggles to implement a privatized child welfare system, this newly released book provides a more positive glimpse at the child welfare system and the people who step up to care for the children.
Pam Allen, Executive Director of the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association has several articles included in the book, including an article about working with birth parents.
“When resource families (foster) and birth families work together from the state, children are able to go home more quickly and resource families, if a relationship is built with the birth parent, can stay in touch as a forever family and support for that child and his parents once the child goes home,” Allen writes in the book.
Allen said she is excited to share her experience and expertise in a book specifically designed to serve as a training and resource tool for foster parents.
“I am excited to be a part of The Foster Parenting Toolbox,” Allen said. “I feel that it is very important for foster parents to hear what works (and what doesn’t work so well) from others who ‘walk in their shoes.’”
Other Nebraska residents have contributed to the book as well. Grand Island resident Tom Osterbuhr shares the story of how his life has been impacted by being a foster parent and the subsequent adoption of his son from the foster care system in the article, “The Unexpected Teacher.”
“I hope parents see my submission and realize that it is not always the easy thing to do, opening up your home to a child or children in need. But in the long run the joy far outweighs the pain,” Osterbuhr said. “Our special needs son, like anything worthwhile takes hard work, dedication and commitment, but the love he has brought our family can never be replaced, nor can a dollar amount be placed on the value he brings....he is pricelss. I have learned so much from a non-verbal little boy that could not have been taught at any school at any price...and to think, I was almost selfish enough to miss this great life changing experience.”
Aurora resident Barbara Nissen also contributed to The Foster Parenting Toolbox that provides a variety of arti cles from a stepby-step guide to becoming a foster parent and tips for protecti ng yourself against false allegati ons to helpful ways to transiti on kids and ways to work with birth parents, The Foster Parenting Toolbox is an all-inclusive guide to foster parenti ng. And woven between the nuts and bolts articles about foster parenting are stories from those who have lived the experience – foster parents who have had to say goodbye to children they loved, former foster youth who offer words of wisdom to foster parents, and caseworkers and support people who have learned from the daily interactions with caring, humble people who raise tough and traumatized children.
Edited by Nebraska native and Chadron State College graduate Kim Phagan-Hansel said she hopes this book becomes a powerful tool for foster parents who care from some of society’s most vulnerable children.
“Foster parents dedicate their lives to taking care of children who have experienced abuse and neglect, been subjected to alcohol and drug abuse and so many other traumas,” Phagan-Hansel said. “These kids come with some special needs and in order to help them heal, they need well-trained, special parents who can take care of them. I hope this book serves as a valuable training tool for these special parents and honors them for the work they do.”
With a March release date, The Foster Parenting Toolbox is available online at htt p://amzn.to/y4x6pg for $29.95. For review copies or to interview the editor and those who entered submissions, contact EMK Press Publisher Carrie Kitze at 732-469-7544.
Congratulations to all of those wonderful families that opened their doors and added to their families on NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY and those that have adopted this past year!. Please remember to call us regarding your Federal Adoption Tax refund questions.
For those adopting this year and 2013, please read the following information from the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
The adoption tax credit is refundable for both 2010 and 2011. Under current law (which could still be changed), the tax credit is as follows in 2012 and 2013:
2012 — The tax credit will be $12,650 per child. Families who adopt children with special needs will be able to claim the full credit regardless of their qualified adoption expenses. Other adopters will have to have qualified adoption expenses.
The credit will NOT be refundable, meaning that families can benefit only if they have federal income tax liability. Just as before 2010, families will claim the credit with their 2012 taxes, use what they can that year, and then can carry any remaining credit forward for five additional years until the credit is used up or time runs out.
We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to claim the credit even if they will not benefit in 2012. It is possible families’ tax situations will change in future years or that the credit might become refundable again.
2013 — Only families who adopt special needs children from foster care will be eligible for up to $6,000 in the adoption tax credit. However, the credit will be based on expenses so families would need to have qualified adoption expenses to claim any credit. The credit will not be refundable, so families can benefit only if they have federal income tax liability. The income limits for the credit will also be reduced significantly in 2013, meaning that families with higher incomes will not benefit.
The adoption credit was made permanent for special needs adoption when the credit was first created. Credits for other adoptions are time limited and are scheduled to end by December 31, 2013.
It is that time of year again! Having a hard time coming up with gift ideas? Help support NFAPA by purchasing a cookbook as a gift. The "Guess Who's Coming For Dinner" Cookbook is a collection of recipes from foster/adoptive families, community members and state leaders.
We recently had a table at a store in Lincoln selling the cookbook. The cover designer, Alena Kinsey (age 17), was on site to sign the cookbooks. Her imagination, talent and creativity has not only contributed to the cover of this book but to her adopted family as well.
Cookbooks are now on sale ($12.00 a book-plus postage). Contact the office (877-257-0176) to purchase.
Adoption Tax Credit—Documentation of Special Needs
For some time now, NACAC has been working with staff at the IRS on the state determination of special needs, and encouraging the IRS to put in writing that the adoption subsidy/adoption assistance agreement is acceptable documentation of special needs. It has finally happened!
The language below can be found at http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=231663,00.html
Q.13 What audit documentation is necessary for special needs adoptions?
A. If you are claiming the credit for a finalized special needs final adoption, you must submit the final adoption order or decree, and the state’s determination of the child’s special needs. You are not required to prove you paid any expenses in connection with the adoption.
You will need to send in a state court adoption certificate, order, judgment, or final decree showing the names of the adoptive child and parent and signed by a representative of the state court under seal. Also include documentation from the state establishing that the child has been determined to have special needs. Acceptable documentation of the state’s determination of special needs includes (but is not limited to) any of the following:
• An adoption assistance or subsidy agreement issued by the state or county
• Certification from the state or county child welfare agency verifying that the child is approved to receive adoption assistance
• Certification from the state or county child welfare agency verifying that the child has special needs
If the IRS tells you that the adoption subsidy agreement is not acceptable documentation or that they need you to document expenses, you may want to include this link/language in your response to the IRS.
News from NACAC on 7/1/11
Penalties Assessed as a Result of the Adoption Tax Credit
Some families have received letters from the IRS stating that they owe thousands of dollars or that their refunds have been significantly reduced, primarily as a result of a penalty assessed for claiming a refund that the IRS has not approved. As we understand it, the IRS can assess taxpayers a penalty of 20 percent of any refund they claim that they are not due.
The letters from the IRS typically include a Form 886-A, Explanation of Items, which details why the IRS has not approved the adoption tax credit. The most common explanations we have heard are: (1) missing documentation; (2) the examiner’s rejection of the adoption assistance agreement as proof of special needs; and (3) calculation or carry forward errors.
If you receive such a letter and you claimed the credit correctly, you should write to the IRS explaining why you disagree, and either re-send any documentation requested or clarify that the adoption assistance agreement IS proof of special needs (highlight the IRS’s own FAQs—question 13 at http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=231663,00.html).
Once your refund has been approved, the penalty will disappear.
However, we also have spoken to several parents who made mistakes in claiming the credit, such as:
claiming the credit more than one year; for example, requesting $12,150 for an adoption in 2009 and then seeking an additional $13,170 for that same adoption in 2010
claiming the full credit for an adoption that does not meet the IRS’s definition of special needs (such as an international or private adoption of a medically fragile child), when expenses were less than the maximum credit
If you are aware that you made an error but haven’t yet received a penalty letter, we recommend writing to the IRS to explain and correct your mistake. Assure them that the error was honest and that you are only seeking the amount that you are due.
News from NACAC on 7/14/11
More on Penalties for the Adoption Tax Credit
In the last News from NACAC, we covered penalty letters adoptive parents are getting from the IRS. We noted that some are due to the IRS’s improperly denying credits and explained, for actual errors, how to apply for abatement of the penalty (read the second section on this page—http://www.nacac.org/taxcredit/processing.html).
If you have an error due to a professional tax preparer or tax preparation calculation error and the IRS will not abate your penalty, you should investigate the preparer’s guarantees. Many have guarantees that say they will cover penalties and interest if they made an error. See the most common preparers’ guarantees here:
If you used other software or a professional preparer, check out their guarantee policies. Please note that some guarantees require you to notify the preparer within a set timeframe, so read the small print and notify the company as soon as you are notified by the IRS.
DO YOU PUT FOSTER CHILDREN'S PICTURES ON FACEBOOK??
AS RESOURCE PARENTS, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING THE CHILDREN AND FAMILES WE SERVE CONFIDENTIAL. WE ARE FINDING THAT MANY FOSTER FAMILIES ARE PLACING PICTURES OF THEIR FOSTER CHILDREN ON THEIR FACE PAGES. THAT IS A BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY, AND CAN BE CAUSE FOR LOSS OF LICENSE.
1-007.06 RELEASE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REGARDING WARDS
No photograps or slides, electronic, video, or other identifying nformation regarding a Department ward may be release for use on posters, in news stories, presentations, press releases, newsletters without the written consent of the child's worker and agreement of the parent, if parental rights are intact.
in deciding whether to give consent, the worker will consider:
Legal status of parental rights;
The child's opinion and wishes;
Purpose and use of material;
Effect of us on child and family.
If a situation is questionable, consent shouldn't be given.
Youth Court Questionnaire
Announcing the Youth Court Questionnaire
Created in collaboration by judges and youth in care, Nebraska Foster Youth Council and Through the Eyes of the Child, release the Youth Court Questionnaire as a supplemental document for children and youth to give input on their cases.
As someone who interacts with young people in foster care, we urge you to share this questionnaire freely with children, youth, parents, other professionals or anyone you feel is able to share it with children and youth.
The Youth Court Questionnaire can be completed by any youth with an open CPS case, regardless of age or placement, at anytime and as often as they would like. Make copies, forward electronically or direct people to http://bit.ly/8Yp2tl to promote the importance of young people speaking up for themselves.