NJ Must Improve Core Services for Foster Kids to Remain a Leader in Child Welfare Reform

(Newark, NJ) — Today an independent federal court monitor released a progress report (PDF) on New Jersey’s child welfare reform effort, a campaign spurred by national advocacy group Children’s Rights. In response to the report, which covers the first half of 2012, Children’s Rights Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry released this statement:

“While New Jersey has been on the path to becoming a national leader for child welfare reform, its progress has slowed and there is a troubling lag when it comes to improving fundamental services to children.

“Given New Jersey’s accomplishments, there is reason to believe that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) should be able to achieve reform in all areas addressed by the system-wide court order. Thanks to the state’s recruiting efforts, DCF’s supply of licensed foster homes and relative caregivers ensures that DCF has adequate placement options for children. In addition, New Jersey is becoming a national model for providing timely health care to foster kids.

“However, caseworker visits to foster children remain startlingly low at 53 percent. The state cannot afford to lose ground in such a critical service. DCF continues to struggle with maintaining appropriate caseloads, timely case planning, coordinating family meetings and addressing the needs of children aging out of foster care. New Jersey has focused considerable resources on reviewing its operations and training its workforce, but has been unable to translate these efforts into improvements in the provision of services across the state. While the state has done a good job in training its workforce, it needs to translate that training into consistently delivering the core services that directly impact vulnerable children.”

To review the monitoring report and information on Children’s Rights’ New Jersey’s campaign, please visit the New Jersey Class Action Page.