FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kristine A. Brown
June 20, 2013 Press Office: 609-633-8507
Christie Administration’s Annual Family Success Center Conference Focuses on Post-Traumatic Stress After Superstorm Sandy
TRENTON, NJ – The 6th Annual Family Success Center Conference was held June 18 at the Professional Center at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in New Brunswick, bringing together representatives from all fifty-one of New Jersey’s Family Success Centers (FSCs) for a day of educational workshops, facilitated discussions, networking and learning opportunities.
In opening remarks at the conference, DCF Commissioner Allison Blake said, “Today is a celebration of the commitment our Family Success Centers make to children, families, and communities all across our state. By developing these strong, resilient networks, we are helping to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as reduce isolation by strengthening community connections and promoting optimal child, youth, family and community development.”
FSCs are community-based, family-centered neighborhood gathering places where community residents can go for family support, information, referrals and access to services at no cost. FSCs are a ‘one-stop’ site that provides wrap-around resources and support for families before they find themselves in crisis.
Free services provided by FSCs include: supportive counseling for parents raising children; classes and support groups for families, single parents, and teens; parent-child activities; and a variety of workshops on topics such as stress reduction, financial literacy, leadership/empowerment, education, employment, domestic violence, nutritional awareness, healthcare resources, and financial assistance.
The number of individual families served by the fifty-one FSCs statewide has increased by nearly sixty-three percent, from 37,820 to 61,755, since 2010.
Commissioner Blake said that FSCs always have been a vital community resource for New Jersey’s most vulnerable children and families. Since Superstorm Sandy, even more individuals – including those who never may have used social services in the past, as well as those who suffered storm devastation in their community – are accessing the programs, resources, and support offered by their local FSC.
Since the storm last October, the FSCs were – and continue to be – a place for families to find support. In some instances FSCs became authorized FEMA sites where families could file applications and receive benefit information. Some centers conducted food and clothing drives and collected cleaning supplies for impacted residents. Most sites became a safe, comfortable place for families and children to seek respite while dealing with the impact on their homes, communities, and lives.
Because of these increasing needs, the Christie Administration recently opened the Bayshore Family Success Center at the Union Beach Memorial Library to serve the communities of Atlantic Highlands, Belford, Highlands, Keansburg, Keyport, Leonardo, and Union Beach. In addition, current funding of the Ocean County Family Success Center has been increased by $60,000 so programs in that county can be expanded as a result of the impact of Sandy.
The conference also featured a keynote address by renowned developmental-behavioral pediatrician David J. Schonfeld, MD, the pediatrician-in-chief and director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine. Dr. Schonfeld has provided consultation and training on pediatric crisis and bereavement in the aftermath of a number of events and disasters both within the United States and abroad, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, as well as school and community shootings. At the conference, Dr. Schonfeld spoke about post-traumatic stress in children and families after Superstorm Sandy.
During the conference, participants also had the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops on topics as diverse as fatherhood, mentoring families, and engaging children, to name a few.
To learn more about the Family Success Centers located throughout New Jersey, visit www.nj.gov/dcf and click the “Families” tab on the home page.