November is National Adoption Month. This designation is an essential reminder of how you can change someone’s life for the better by offering permanent or foster care to a child. It reminds all of us to help in creating awareness for adoption. All children deserve love, affection and support.
In my blogs, I often refer to issues that need improvement or raise the specter of a problem. While adoption and foster care remain an important policy priority of our state, we can point to New Jersey as a leader in this area.
Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced that our child welfare system (CWS) received recognition as a leader in child safety, reunification and foster placement. Data recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) and its contracted network of providers achieve better performance outcomes than most nationwide CWS programs.
“New Jersey is consistently a leader in multiple aspects of supporting our children and families – in health, in education and child welfare,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Under the leadership of Commissioner Norbut Beyer at DCF, we’ve made incredible strides in transforming our system into a prevention and family service-centered infrastructure. I’m incredibly proud of our progress and continued prioritization of reducing abuse and neglect and keeping families together.”
This success has not been achieved overnight. DCF has been reforming the state’s child welfare system for nearly two decades. DCF’s Commissioner, Christine Norbut Beyer, also notes the transformation that has occurred over time in the Department. “New Jersey’s child welfare system bears almost no resemblance to the Division of Youth and Family Services of the past. The number of children entering foster care in New Jersey has declined steadily. Between 2018 and 2019 alone, the rate of children entering foster care declined by 23%. The effect of New Jersey’s investment in comprehensive, statewide strategies such as evidence-based home visiting programs, Family Preservation Services, supportive housing, and the Children’s System of Care is clear and convincing.”
The data below demonstrates some of the strong outcomes achieved by New Jersey on behalf of our children, and includes:
- New Jersey’s children are victims of maltreatment less than one-third as often as children in the United States on average. In New Jersey, the 2018 child maltreatment victimization rate was 3.1 per, 1,000 compared with 10.1 children per 1,000 on average.
- New Jersey uses family separation as a child safety intervention less than half as often as other jurisdictions in the United States, on average. In 2018, 1.8 children per 1,000 entered foster care in New Jersey, compared with 3.4 children per 1,000 in the U.S. on average.
- Children in New Jersey’s foster care system are more likely to be reunified with their families than children in the United States on average. In 2018, 61% of children exiting the foster care system in New Jersey were leaving for reunification with their family of origin, compared with 56% in the United States on average.
- Children in New Jersey’s foster care system are less likely to be placed in an institution or residential care setting than in the United States on average. In 2018, 99% of children in New Jersey’s foster care system lived in a foster family, not in an institution or residential care setting, compared with 96% in the United States on average.
These positive outcomes are not an accident. In part, it occurred because of devoted individuals opening their hearts and homes, and a system dedicated to children who needed help.
Even with this positive trend, children still are waiting for adoption. If you believe that you and your home could provide warmth, kindness and stability, here is a good starting point: https://www.nj.gov/njfosteradopt.
If you wonder why we need good government, this is a shining example of what success looks like. If you have it in your heart, consider adopting.
That’s my take, what’s yours?