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!
The attendance was especially impressive because we didn’t have any money at that time. Everybody paid their own way. It was strictly voluntary. We cooked all the food and brought it – we would become known for always having the best food at our meetings!
We met more than once at Shiloh because it was in a central place, Trenton. We always had very good attendance and they gave us the space at no cost. As more counties were formed and joined us, we worked on bylaws and had elections. Then the leaders of those counties came onto the board of directors, and that’s the way it was for many years. It was good to know that there were so many people out there who cared about these kids.