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 →
Milestones in Foster Care History in NJ – The 1970s – Foster parents Sue and Bernie Dondiego and Hattie Talley sit at a kitchen table and discuss issues facing foster parents and how to work together to bring about positive change for the children in their homes. They create 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 – Meeting with Hattie Talley and the Formation of the New Jersey Foster Parent Association
When we met at that kitchen table back in the early ’70’s, it was just a few foster parents talking. Hattie Talley, who went on to form the organization with us, Carol, and ourselves. We were just telling war stories like we always did. But then Hattie said, “This is how it’s always going to be if we don’t help one another. We have to support one another and reach out to one another.” And that’s how it started that day. Continue reading →
History shows the early 1970s were a challenging time for foster parents in New Jersey. At the start of the decade, there was no local organization for foster parents to join to get support, advise them on advocating for foster children, or even provide training on parenting abused and neglected children and teens. This all began to change in 1972 when a few foster parents met and came to a conclusion.
“Someone has to stand up for the foster children. If not the foster parents, then who?”