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 →
The word orphanage often conjures up images of raggedy Oliver Twist and Annie in destitute surroundings with scores of poor children, but the institution holds a vital place in the history of caring for foster children dating back to the late 19th century.
During a time when few options existed, orphanages housed and cared for children who were abandoned or whose parents were temporarily unable to care for them. Continue reading →
A lot has changed over the last four decades. The price of milk was around $1.57 per gallon and a dozen eggs were about $0.78. How about only paying $.53 per gallon for gas? With the increase of Sport Utility Vehicles on the road, super low gas prices may be appreciated today more than before. With the ever-changing trends in society, what existed forty years ago can seem like ancient times – although it wasn’t as long ago as it may seem. Here is a quick look back at five things from 1974 that are no longer around. Continue reading →
Free Training For Foster Parents in NJ Means Better Care For Foster Children in the State
When we started back in the early ’70s, there was no free training for foster parents in NJ offered or required by the State, nor paid training for that matter. But then, just like now, foster parents were taking children into their home who had experienced abuse and neglect, or had serious medical issues. Foster parents wanted to help the kids – and wanted help helping the kids – but there wasn’t anything “official” available. Many foster parents took trainings in one parenting skill or another from various sources, but there was no consistency. If you lived in Essex County, for instance, you might be doing something totally different than a foster parent in Mercer County. We’ve come a long way since then! (Click to learn more about currently offered free foster parent training in NJ.)
When we started the NJFPA, now known as FAFS, we knew we wanted to make free training for foster parents readily available and that we wanted to make it consistent throughout New Jersey. We also knew we wanted a foster parent to provide and present the training. We told DYFS (now DCP&P), “We have a foster parent that is very knowledgeable and knows a lot about training, and we would like that person to be in charge of the training.” Back then, we were met with some resistance – not so much to the training itself, but to having a foster parent in charge. But we told them, “I think they (the foster parents) want that, and that’s what we’re going to have to get.” Continue reading →
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 →