Big change in host families in the NJ – 70% of children placed with “parents”
When New Jersey children have to be removed from their homes due to unfortunate circumstances such as abuse and neglect, their next stop is not what most people would consider a traditional foster home.
There has been a big push in the Garden State to connect these children with a parent, family friend, or close contact, as statistics suggest these types of connections make a big difference in outcomes for affected children.
“If they are placed in a hostel they are less likely to move around during their placement because they feel connected, they are with someone familiar,” said Darlene Fusco, deputy director of the Protection Division. of children and tenure within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
Fusco said the data also shows that children in foster care are more likely to return home and be reunited with their original family, which is the ultimate goal of children in care.
“To be frank, while we’ve always understood it was important, it wasn’t as focused as we would like,” said Fusco.
But some transformation goals were introduced when Christine Norbut Beyer took over as DCF commissioner in 2018, Fusco said. In 2019, 45% of children who entered care were placed with parents within 30 days of their removal. As of March of this year, the rate was 70%, according to DCF data.
DCF wants to achieve a rate of 80%. All family caregivers should be licensed and trained, just like traditional foster parents.
“Kinship doesn’t have to be a blood relative. It can be a teacher, it can be a coach,” said Corinne LeBaron, CEO of embrella, a New Jersey nonprofit foster care organization. “This is what is best for the child.”
As part of National Parenthood Month, embrella will organize its first edition Kinship Conference September 18. The virtual event will offer workshops and networking experiences for related families.