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.
FAFS 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
To access closed adoption birth records or to not access closed adoption birth records. That has certainly been a question for many decades among those it affects the most – adoptees, the families that have adopted them and birth parents. There has been a divide of opinion on this topic to say the least. On one hand, birth parents that have decided they want to keep their identity a secret have most likely done so because they wanted protection. Continue reading
The New Jersey Tuition Waiver – Advocating for Education for Children in Foster Care
At a time when only a handful of states provided tuition coverage to eligible children in foster care, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) stepped to the plate and went to bat for the children in care in New Jersey. At the time, FAFS knew how important it was to bring the tuition waiver to the state. FAFS and its Board of Directors knew getting a Tuition Waiver Bill written and to the governor to sign into law would be a huge undertaking – especially considering the work load of the staff and the various offerings that were being provided to the foster care community through the organization.
However, FAFS also knew that this legislation would make a world of difference in the lives of children in care – especially to the older youth making the transition into adulthood. FAFS believed the state providing financial support in education would send a clear message that children in care are just as important as any other child, and they can succeed. A legislative committee spearheaded by then FAFS president, Janet Farrand, began to take steps in passing the New Jersey Tuition Waiver Bill in law. Continue reading
We have been discussing the progression of FAFS’ training from its inception in the 1970s and ‘80s through the 1990s. In just three decades, the world has shifted from a close-knit culture into a culture that is all about the microwave lifestyle – we want a quality product that is relevant to our needs delivered in a quick and convenient manner. In our society, it almost seems as if yesterday was too late. That just seems to be a sign of the times – wanting what we need and wanting it NOW.
Fortunately, FAFS has been poised to address the concerns foster parents have regarding their growth and development and how it affects the children in their care; today training is available in ways that are more convenient than ever before. Continue reading
In 2003, a harrowing case of a seven-year-old, Faheem Williams, found dead and his brothers found neglected and malnourished in a Newark home sparked a flame that fueled an ongoing lawsuit and began a reform for child welfare in New Jersey. This heartbreaking story of abuse rang so loud, it caught the attention of then Governor James E. McGreevey who mandated the state to go through an extensive review of Division of Youth and Family Services’ (DYFS) practices. Later that year was another case involving four brothers in Collingswood New Jersey who, after a history of being in foster care, were adopted. They were later found to be highly malnourished and neglected by their adoptive parents. The children were removed from their home and the surviving adoptive mother was sent to prison. Continue reading