A Tribute to Bernie Dondiego, FAFS Founder


Faith, family and community. These are what mattered most to FAFS’ founder Bernie Dondiego, who passed away on July 7, 2015.

To read our full tribute to Bernie, visit our website.

The Close of Foster and Adoptive Family Services’ 40th Anniversary Celebration

For 40 years, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) has provided support, training and advocacy to meet the special needs of foster, adoptive and kinship families, who provide safe, stable and nurturing homes for children in foster care. As our 40th year comes to a close, FAFS CEO Mary Jane Awrachow reflects on what this anniversary means for FAFS moving forward.

A message from FAFS’ CEO Mary Jane Awrachow :

There are three words that signify what the 40th Anniversary of Foster and Adoptive Family Services has meant to us.

The first word is celebration.

40th Anniversary CelebrationThis anniversary was a celebration of how FAFS has grown during our 40 years. From our humble beginnings, when Hattie Talley and Sue and Bernie Dondiego sat around a kitchen table in 1972 to the fully staffed robust and active organization we are today, we’ve expanded our services to cover the needs of foster, adoptive and kinship parents. Continue reading

The Transition of FAFS – With Change, the Mission Remains the Same

The New Jersey Foster Parent Association (NJFPA, now Foster and Adoptive Family Services or FAFS) began in a foster parent’s home in Middlesex County, New Jersey in the early 1970s. As the need for advocacy grew, FAFS obtained a contract from the state and eventually moved from New Brunswick to Trenton, New Jersey. This brought the NJFPA in closer proximity to the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), which is now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P). A lot of progression has occurred since then. However, with the transition of FAFS and the many changes that have occurred it rings true that with change, the mission remains the same.

the transition of fafsFAFS was headquartered in Trenton throughout the 1980s before returning to its permanent home in Middlesex County in 1994. Sue Dondiego, one of FAFS’ founders noted, “From its humble beginnings as an all volunteer organization to the present day, FAFS has focused their time, talents and hard work to develop programs, projects and activities that would improve the lives of resource parents and the children in their care.” What started with just a handful of people in 1974 has developed into an organization of many people with the talents and backgrounds that form the thriving group FAFS is today. Continue reading

A Brief History of Resource Family Rates

For a long time, resource family rates in New Jersey were stagnant and did not correlate with the actual cost of raising a child. But with the help of FAFS and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, rates are now linked to the USDA and are updated annually.

Resource Family RatesWe have a story we like to tell here at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.

It involves our co-founder Sue Dondiego. She was standing before the Legislature at the State House in Trenton in the 1970s to fight for increased resource family rates. At the time, the monthly clothing allowance for a child in foster care was about equal to one-third of the price of a new children’s coat. Continue reading

The Impact of Drug Abuse on Foster Care: A Historic Trend

The reasons why children enter foster care have always been varied and are often difficult to rationalize. But recent trends in society are changing the status quo and having a profound effect on the way children enter, exit and return to foster care. This blog will explain the impact of drug abuse on the current state of foster care.

drug abuseFoster care’s primary mission – providing a suitable home environment for children in need – has stood the test of time, but many other aspects of foster care in the US have evolved substantially since its inception in our early history. Some of the most dramatic differences between past and present lie in the reasons children enter foster care.

In the past, foster care was primarily intended to serve children who had lost their families or whose families were financially or materially unable to provide for them. According to many first-hand accounts, children were most likely to remain in foster care temporarily while their biological parents sought better wages and improved living conditions. If we fast forward to the present, however, we find that that’s no longer the case. Continue reading