Policies in New Jersey

Foster Parent and Youth Ambassadors

Some state plans describe involving foster parents and youth as foster care “ambassadors” as a recruitment strategy, including Georgia (community ambassadors), Iowa (foster and adoptive parent ambassadors), Massachusetts (foster and adoptive parent ambassadors who are paid $500 per month for 30 hours of general recruitment activity) and New Jersey (youth ambassadors who share their experiences with foster care to dispel myths about fostering teens).

See state diligent recruitment plans for more information.

New Jersey Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS)

New Jersey created the Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) to support children and families in crisis. Mobile response is delivered to children experiencing escalating emotional symptoms, behaviors, or traumatic circumstances that compromise their ability to function within their family, living situation, school, or community. The goal of MRSS is to provide intervention and support at the earliest moment families identify that help is needed. Under the MRSS intervention, administered by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) as part of the Children’s System of Care, a behavioral health worker is available to any family in the state at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Services offered include crisis de-escalation, in-home counseling, behavioral assistance, caregiver therapeutic support, intensive community-based services, skill-building and medication management. Mobile Response and Stabilization Services have consistently maintained over 94% of children in their placement at the time of service, including children who are involved with the child welfare system.

See this report from Casey Family Programs for more details.

New Jersey's Siblings in Best Settings (SIBS)

New Jersey established the goal that 80 percent of sibling groups will be placed together. Its foster parent diligent recruitment plan features an initiative called Siblings in Best Settings (SIBS), aimed at increasing capacity for sibling groups through enhanced board rates and retainer fees for vacant beds. The state is also working to increase placement of adolescents in kin care by 30 percent and to increase non-kin capacity for adolescents by 15 percent.

See New Jersey's diligent recruitment plan for more information.

Safe reduction of children in congregate care

New Jersey achieved a 45 percent reduction in the use of congregate care from 2009 to 2016. The significant decrease has not been the result of a single program or policy. Rather, the approach has been multifaceted and iterative and include strategies such as: 

    • Case practice model
    • Prioritizing relatives, family friends, and communities
    • Matching and preparation of children and families
    • Resource family recruitment
    • Resource family support and retention
See strategy brief by Casey Familly Programs for more information.

Foster Family Retention Plan

By 2018, New Jersey's Department of Children and Families had been so successful in its recruitment efforts that the number of licensed foster homes is more than double the number of children requiring placement in out-of-home care (approximately 14,000 beds are available in licensed foster homes versus 6,600 children in care). In addition to recruitment efforts, New Jersey adopted a new family model of care that included an extensive menu of support for foster, adoption, and kinship caregivers that has helped reduce the overall foster care population as well as dramatically reduce the number of children placed in congregate care.  This paradigm of resource home support, articulated in the New Jersey Resource Family Retention Plan, is very intensive, with multiple staff working to secure as many community resources as possible to help keep children in these family-based settings. DCF also provides peer supports to resource parents through an active mentoring program and a peer support helpline staffed by veteran resource families and run by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care Call Center.

To learn more, see New Jersey's Resource Family Retention Plan