FAFS Outlasted These Five Fads from the ‘90s

We listened to grunge. We wore plaid. We collected Beanie Babies. We loved the ‘90s, and we never wanted them to end – especially since it meant that Y2K was coming!

As we celebrate 40 years of supporting foster, adoptive and kinship families in NJ, we look back through the decades at fads we’ve seen come and go. How many of these fads from the ‘90s do you remember? Continue reading

Support Groups for Foster Parents in NJ: An Invaluable Resource

Support groups for foster parents in NJ are “invaluable” in their efforts to care for the state’s abused and neglected children.

support groups for foster parents in njI got involved in FAFS’ support groups for foster parents in New Jersey very early on. When I began fostering, I received a call from Carol, Ed Ciak’s (FAFS Board Member) wife. At the time, the Division had asked her to contact all new foster parents when they received their first placement. She asked how things were going, asked if I had received the paperwork I needed (Medicaid card, foster parent ID letter, initial clothing allowance, etc.) and then invited me to a New Jersey Foster Parent Association (now Foster and Adoptive Family Services, or FAFS) meeting.

I went, and have been going ever since.

FAFS’ county-based support groups for foster parents in NJ provide opportunities to gain and share information with others who are fostering children through the Division. The group is open to all licensed resource parents in NJ, whether they are foster parents, have adopted from foster care or have taken a relative or friend’s child into their home (kinship).

Get help from people who truly understand when you join support groups for foster parents in NJ.

Caring for a child of another family and co-parenting with DCP&P (formerly DYFS) are unique experiences that most in the general public don’t understand. The advice and support of other foster parents is invaluable. The best advice I’ve received as a foster parent was to 1) attend FAFS meetings and 2) to use the Division chain of command.

Free training for New Jersey foster parents is provided at the county meetings, often by speakers from community organizations. These trainings help foster families identify additional community supports and programs that might meet the needs of their foster children. Information is shared on a variety of topics, including discipline, life books, separation and loss, medical issues, long term effects of exposure to drugs and alcohol in utero, etc.

Attending Middlesex County FAFS’ support group for foster parents is invaluable to me. The speakers we bring in every month teach me about resources available in my community as well as about addressing some of the special needs of children in out-of-home-placement.

Support groups offer advice and empathy to foster parents in NJ.

However, the biggest benefit is the contact with other foster parents. From them, I have learned so much about navigating the system and about advocating for the children in my care. When I am dealing with an issue with one of my children, there has almost always been someone else who has faced that same issue with one of their own and can offer empathy and advice.

I believe it is the support and information I receive at these meetings that has allowed me and my family to foster for as long as we have.

In order to make it even easier for foster parents in NJ to participate in support groups, FAFS has taken them online! Online support networks allow foster adoptive and kinship parents to discuss the issues that matter most to them in a private social network just for them. Learn more about FAFS’ foster parent support groups in NJ.

NJ Foster Care History Timeline The 1980s

The 1980s were a time of growth and change that led to many positive developments for New Jersey’s foster families.

“We are proud of New Jersey’s distinction as the national model of partnership between a State child services agency and foster parents. Together we are setting an example for state agencies in recognizing the invaluable contribution that foster parents can have – not only in caring for thousands of children on a daily basis, but also in shaping the quality and diversity of substitute care services for the future.” Nicholas Scalera

NJ Foster Care History Timeline: The 1980s

1983 – Foster and Adoptive Family Services‘ partnership with DYFS as advocates, not adversaries, begins

1983 – NJFPA becomes the first state association to receive state funding for advocacy, in-service training and recruitment of foster homes

1983 – NJFPA receives DYFS policy regarding foster care for review and comment before implementation

1983 – Support Groups for Foster Parents (then known as Volunteer Committees) now in every county in NJ

1983 – Legislation on foster care programs/services amounting to over four million dollars introduced in Senate and Assembly

1983 –  Governor Thomas Kean designates May as Foster Parent Month in NJ

1986 –  Touch A Life (Become a Foster Parent) ad campaign debuts – created for NJFPA from donations of professional service through the NJ Council on Advertising.

1987 –  Liability insurance program for foster parents established

1987 –  Foster Parent support worker position introduced

Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s

Attachment Issues:  Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s

Changes in Foster Care System History 1960s-1970s: Bonding Between Foster Children & Foster ParentsThe idea of what the relationship between foster children and foster parents should be evolved during this crucial time in foster care system history. Bonding between foster parents and foster children was beginning to be encouraged, rather than discouraged. In some cases, this led to fewer moves for children in foster care and greater stability.

(Reprinted from the New Jersey Foster Parents Association’s (now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services, or FAFS) twentieth anniversary program.)

Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s – Keep It Moving

In 1963, the agency known as the State Board of Child Welfare became the Bureau of Children’s Services. In 1972, it became the Division of Youth and Family Services (now known as the Division of Child Placement and Permanency, or DCP&P).

As the agency grew and changed, some of its practices failed to keep pace with the developing philosophy of permanency planning. For instance, many social workers regularly moved children from one foster home to another to avoid having foster parents and foster children become too attached — in other words, to avoid what today is called “bonding” (and is encouraged). And many social workers excluded foster parents from every aspect of planning for the child’s future.

Fortunately, in the early 1970s, there were some social workers who had a different notion about the role of foster parents in a child’s life, and word of this modern attitude began to travel through the loosely-knit foster parent network.

More and more foster parents came to believe that someone must speak out on behalf of foster children, and if not for foster parents, then who?

This conviction led to the founding of the New Jersey Foster Parent Association, now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) in 1974, one of the most significant milestones in foster care system history in NJ in the 1970s.

Foster Care History 1940s – 1950’s

Cod Liver Oil, Outgrown Shoes and Visitors – Foster Care History 1940s – 1950s

Long before foster care organizations like Foster and Adoptive Family Services were established, life was very different for foster children and foster parents than it is today. This information on Foster Care History in the 1940s – 1950s is reprinted from the New Jersey Foster Parents Association’s (now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services, or FAFS) twentieth anniversary program.

Foster Care History – Medicine, Nutrition and Clothing

foster care historyA 1942 publication of “A Home Should Provide” by the State Board of Child Guardians, suggested to foster parents that “Cod liver oil should be given to children under four years of age from September through May, and in certain instances throughout the year.” (Cod liver oil was thought to boost the immune system and protect children from colds and flu.)

Back then, the agency provided milk to foster children through contract with a delivery company and foster parents had to advise the agency promptly if the milk delivery was irregular in coming.

Clothing for children in foster care was provided through a large supply house run by the Board. Foster parents were urged to carefully measure their foster children twice a year so their clothing requests could be submitted. Foster parents also had to plan for a child’s foot growth at least once a month in advance to be sure that a replacement pair of shoes could be obtained in time. Continue reading