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 Former Foster Child’s Recollection of Hattie Talley

We meet thousands of people in a lifetime with many of them disappearing in the annals of memory. But every so often there’s one person you come across, whether it’s for seven minutes or seven years, that changes your life forever.

Hattie Talley, Founder New Jersey Foster Parent Association (now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services)

Hattie Talley, Founder New Jersey Foster Parent Association (now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services)

That’s what Hattie Talley, co-founder of Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), was for Susan Roseboro.

After becoming a foster child in 1966 at age 13 following her parent’s divorce, Roseboro spent time in four foster homes, each leaving little impression and less connection.

The fifth home, however, changed everything. Continue reading

Remembering Hattie Talley

FAFS’ surviving founders remember co-founder Hattie Talley as vibrant and committed.

hattie talleyFirst and foremost, Hattie Talley was the right person at the right time. Not only was she a very caring individual, but she was also an outstanding advocate for foster parents.

Hattie’s strength was her understanding of the importance of collaboration and partnerships.

She formed successful working relationships with DYFS (now DCP&P), the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) and others.

She was instrumental in having DCP&P assign a Liaison to the New Jersey Foster Parents Association (NJFPA). That was our name before we became Foster and Adoptive Family Services, or FAFS. The Liaison attended our monthly Board meetings along with our State Officers and County Association Presidents. The Liaison would then bring the foster parents’ concerns and questions back to the DCP&P Director for a response or action.

By promoting the importance of collaboration and partnerships, Hattie Talley secured funding for our state foster parent representatives to attend national foster parent conferences. As a result, several state representatives served as Committee Chairs for the NFPA. That put the us in a good position to submit a successful bid to host the NFPA Conference in New Jersey.

Before hotels prohibited food from the outside being brought in, we had a “Hospitality Room” that was available to NJ representatives and others at the National Conferences. This led to a lot of interaction with foster parents and agency staff all across the US. As a result, ours was viewed as a progressive and well run organization.

Hattie Talley’s outgoing personality helped her secure donated space for our statewide meetings, where everyone would bring food and refreshments. While much work was accomplished, the support and encouragement received from networking with each other was invaluable to all the foster parents in attendance. Hattie always had a great sense of humor. It kept everyone going during the dark times.

Because she was so adept at partnering with others for the sake of foster families, Hattie Talley was the first foster parent to serve on the DCP&P Board of Trustees. Her leadership and organizational skills laid the foundation for many future accomplishments, including but not limited to:

  • FAFS becoming the first state association to be funded for recruitment, training and support
  •  Invitations from other states to speak to agencies and legislatures on our partnerships and ability to support foster parents
  • Monthly coordinating meetings, between DCP&P County/Local Office Managers and FAFS’ Board of Directors
  • FAFS’ recognition by the NJ Governor and NJ Legislature as the “go to” organization for information about foster care, and invitations to testify at Legislative Hearings

Without the good humor and commitment of Hattie Talley, FAFS would not be where it is today: one of the premiere foster care organizations in America celebrating forty years of service to foster families in New Jersey.

Milestones In Foster Care History The 1970s | NJFPA Holds First Meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church

Milestones in Foster Care History in NJ – The 1970s – Foster parents Sue and Bernie Dondiego and Hattie Talley go from a kitchen table with just the 3 of them to a statewide meeting of concerned foster parents after forming the New Jersey Foster Parent Association (NJFPA), known today as Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS).

Milestones in Foster Care History in NJ – The 1970s – Memories of the NJFPA’s First Meeting at the Shiloh Baptist Church

What I remember most about that first meeting is how many people showed up, because it was only by word of mouth. At that time, we had no other way of getting the word out. We didn’t know who was who really. We knew some people, and we said if you know any foster parents, tell them to come. We told all the people we knew and they all brought people. We always had good meetings in the counties. We had a lot of representation. I would say, out of the twenty counties, we had at least twelve counties. Some were more strong then others. Middlesex was strong because we were from there, Burlington was strong because of Hattie, Camden was strong and Newark was strong – and Jersey City was strong. Some of the foster parents who came to that first meeting are still fostering today! Continue reading