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October 21, 2011

Lauren Kidd
Press Office: 609-633-8507

DCF Commissioner Allison Blake Presents First Commissioner’s Partnership Award
DCF created award program to recognize partners who strengthen families and communities 

EAST BRUNSWICK – New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Allison Blake awarded DCF’s first Commissioner’s Partnership Award to Charles Venti, Executive Director of the Nicholson Foundation, during the 2011 New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Biannual Conference on Friday.

“We created this award with an understanding that we need our partners every step of the way,” Commissioner Blake said. “Charles Venti had dedicated his professional life to protecting children and strengthening families. He understands that the protection of our children and the success of our families is not dependent on one government agency alone, but really on the good will of people in the community.”

The Commissioner’s Partnership Award was created this year to help DCF  recognize the significant contributions made by community partners - every day heroes - across the state, who through their selfless commitment, hard work, and dedication help build strong children and families, improve the lives of others, and strengthen communities.

Through Venti’s vision, the Nicholson Foundation has become critical in the development of the Family Success Center model which, in turn, has become an underpinning to the way child abuse and neglect prevention is now approached in New Jersey. The Nicholson Foundation has directly funded seven Family Success Centers in Newark; two in Montclair; one in Orange and one in Roselle. Venti has partnered with non-profit organizations and DCF to promote the concept of family success and the ongoing evolution of a statewide Family Success Center network.

Family Success Centers aim to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing families with convenient access to a wide array of resources that can help them keep children safe. The centers are designed to strengthen families and empower individuals to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to raise healthy and happy children. The “one-stop” shops provide wrap-around resources and supports for families before they find themselves in crisis. 

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the Nicholson Foundation,” Venti said. “The leadership of Commissioner Blake and the Department of Children and Families has motivated us to invest in the system reforms that are strengthening families in New Jersey.”

Venti served as the Deputy Director of the Nicholson Foundation from 2002 to 2010, helping to establish the Foundation’s funding priorities and strategic partnerships. While providing the overall management for the Nicholson Foundation today, Venti also spearheads the Foundation’s child welfare and family support efforts. Prior to joining the Nicholson Foundation, Venti spent 27 years with the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and was the first caseworker to rise to the position of DYFS Director.

“I appreciate how fortunate we are in New Jersey to have so many committed partners who help us accomplish our mission and advance our work every day,” Commissioner Blake said.  “In order for our practice change efforts to continue, we will need to continue to be committed to collaborating with stakeholders and community partners to improve outcomes for New Jersey’s most vulnerable children and families. The Commissioner’s Partnership Award is recognition of these collaborations.”

Commissioner Blake presented the award to Venti during the 2011 New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Biennial Conference, Opening Doors: Partnerships for Prevention and Healing. The conference focused on building professional knowledge and collaborative partnerships to improve the effectiveness of New Jersey’s child maltreatment protection and prevention efforts.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), New Jersey’s state child welfare agency, was created in July 2006 as the state’s first Cabinet agency devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families in New Jersey. DCF includes the Division of Youth and Family Services, Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships and Division of Child Behavioral Health Services, and is focused on strengthening families and achieving safety, well-being and permanency for New Jersey's children.