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Turner: In-State Placement Of Children And Reuniting Families Should Be Priority

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, released the following statement today regarding this morning’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing with Commissioner Kevin Ryan of the State Department of Children and Families:

“During last year’s Budget hearing on the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), I expressed my concern for the need to preserve and maintain families, while avoiding unnecessary out-of-home placements of children. I specifically asked about the need for funding basic necessities such as, food, shelter, utilities, repairs, essential household equipment, and other expenditures, to permit, wherever possible, children to continue to live with their families.

“In the case of one of my constituents, his daughter was placed in an out-of-State foster home, and was not permitted to return home because she would have had to sleep on a sofa bed. Instead of opting to purchase a suitable bed for the girl, DYFS instead chose to continue to cover the cost of expensive out-of-state foster care. Reuniting families, while saving State dollars should always take precedence. I have heard nothing from the Department on this case, or any other like it.

“Whenever possible, we should make sure that we have the resources available to bring kids back to New Jersey. It is important that children are near their family support system.

“We must make sure that we are preserving families, and that we are not unnecessarily and unwisely breaking up families and delaying reunifications at great human as well as fiscal cost. However, if living with, or being near family poses a threat to the health or safety of a child, we should still be able to provide them with the necessary resources here in New Jersey, rather than finding expensive foster care out-of-state.”