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Full of Promise

Nebraska Children's Home Society celebrates 120 years of promises fulfilled

 

Nebraska Children's Home Society (NCHS), has been serving our community for 120 years, supporting parents in the goal of nurturing children so they can reach their full potential.

A child is born with a life of possibilities. A promise to grow to be kind, generous, thoughtful, and good. Parents and society can either aide the child in this promise or hinder their path toward all the favorable things to come.  Are parents and society doing enough to love and nurture each child so they can fulfill this promise?

One organization, Nebraska Children's Home Society (NCHS), has been serving our community for 120 years, supporting parents in the goal of nurturing children so they can reach their full potential.

Executive Director/CEO Karen Authier of the Nebraska Children’s Home Society joined the organization with one goal in mind: ensure every child has the opportunity to grow in a healthy family.  Since  Authier  joined NCHS as Executive Director in 2007 she has  focused on founder Dr. E.P. Quivey’s vision to always keep the well being of each child foremost.

HOME B​UILDING

Founded in 1893 by Dr. E.P. Quivey, NCHS is part of the Children’s Home Society of America, a federation of 22 child serving agencies . Dr. Quivey believed that it would be possible to improve a child's well-being and eliminate juvenile delinquency by placing children in family homes rather than reformatories .That vision, along with other positive impacts the organization was having in Nebraska, drew Authier to NCHS.“I was well aware that the organization had a state-wide presence,” Authier says. “Of course, I was also aware that one of the defining characteristics of the NCHS is [ the] focus  on the child.  Because of that focus,  there is no charge adoptive parents have to pay. It is all about finding a home for a child, not [about finding] a child for a family.” With Dr. Quivey’s original mission as a foundation,  Authier has continued the emphasis on the  well-being of each child.  "The fact that the children’s home focuses on children and their families was very appealing to me because it was a concentrated focus," she reiterates.

The Nebraska Children’s Home Society offers a range of services including pregnancy and parenting services,  adoption,  foster care and early childhood education.  Prevention services are clearly one of Authier’s passions. Parenting services are in increasing demand as an effective approach to preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child well-being. “We work with families to help parents do the best job that they can.” 

“We work with a number of women who have unplanned pregnancies.  We work with them on their options of creating a parenting plan or an adoption plan.  For those who choose a parenting plan, we can provide free pregnancy and parenting classes and  one-on-one services in their home that focus on parenting skills and how to nurture a growing baby and child.  For those who choose an adoption plan, we support them for a lifetime--connecting them with potential adoptive parents and supporting them through the process and after. 

For teens, we provide supportive prevention services, working with girls  to help them develop a better understanding of what to look for in a healthy relationship and how to set goals for themselves so the risk of an unplanned pregnancy is less.”

RESOURCES FOR SUCCESS

“NCHS was a pioneer in developing foster homes across the state.  Since1893, NCHS founders understood the importance of placing children in foster families if their own families could not care for them. It wasn’t called foster care at the time, but it was a program where children were placed in a family home rather than in an orphanage until they could be reunited with their parents.  If they couldn’t return home, many of those children were adopted by their foster families.”

“In the field of child welfare and social work, there’s a much better understanding of what children do need now than in the past,” she continues. “There are good models for programs as to how to prevent placement or how to leave no stone unturned in order to find the right adoptive placement for children who need permanency. We have used that understanding to focus on the quality of our foster care program and the quality of our prevention programs.”

There are many factors that contribute to a decision to remove a child from his or her biological parents.

"Our goal is to prevent this from happening but sometimes it is necessary for the child's own safety and well being. Parents can become overwhelmed with responsibilities; other factors include economic situations, domestic violence, substance abuse, or simply the fact that no one has ever taught the parents what a child needs in terms of basics and discipline. Sometimes the child’s needs are unique, for example serious medical issues,” Authier adds.  “We work  to keep children in their own homes , but at the same time, as we recruit foster parents, we prepare them for the possibility that if  a child in their home becomes available for adoption, we want them to consider becoming the [adoptive] family.”

While adoption and foster care services have always been among core services for NCHS, Authier is adamant about the need for a wide variety of services and tools for parents to promote environments  where the child flourishes, and the parents do as well.“In early childhood, we recognize many parents are working or in school,” she explains.

“So they need an environment where their children will not only be cared for, but learning what they need to learn in order to be ready for kindergarten. Therefore, we’ve placed a lot of emphasis on the learning needs of infants through the first few years of their lives. We work with both parents to make sure children are off to a good start when they enter school."

UNWAVERING COMMITMENT

As the organization celebrates  its 120th anniversary, Authier foresees  the organization’s mission  continuing long into the future.

“When I think about what the Children’s Home was like, what the country was like, what the challenges were in 1893, and I fast-forward to 2013, I reflect upon the fact that this organization has a rich history of involving dedicated community members who want to do what was right for hurting children,” Authier says. “In the early years children were placed in homes across the state and a volunteer or a staff member would often take groups of children needing homes on a train to their new family placements . While those practices have changed, the basic values have remained the same.

The core value of the Children’s Home is that the child is our client and we will do whatever we need to do that is best for that child.”On December 14, 2013, NCHS hosts its anniversary celebration at The Marriott Hotel in Regency. Awards will be presented to people who exemplify the organization’s vision and mission, including those who volunteer and those who have donated various types of support over the years.“We started the statewide celebration last spring once the snow went away,” she concludes. “Through our gratitude tour around the state, we have reached out to people who have had connections with us over the years and who have supported us by opening their homes to children, as well as given financial support.  Through the years, the Society has earned a reputation for its stability and professional competence, its warm personal relationships with those it serves, and its compassion for reaching out and caring."

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"Our goal is to help people see how we’ve changed as an organization and that even though the world is changing, our values stay the same."

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