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Vitale Statement On Federal Monitor’s Report On NJ Children’s Safety Net

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the federal monitor’s report regarding progress in the State’s children’s welfare agency and safety net programs for at-risk kids:

“Today’s report indicates some much-needed progress in reforming New Jersey’s child safety net programs, such as DYFS, which for years was the poster-child for dysfunctional State agencies.

“Much of the credit for the turn-around in the State’s child welfare programs belongs to Division of Children and Families Commissioner Kevin Ryan, who brought an advocate’s eye to the challenges of putting these programs back on the right track.

“As the sponsor of legislation establishing the Department of Children and Families as a separate State agency from the Department of Human Services, I recognized that the first step to rehabilitating the tarnished DYFS reputation was to single out the wellbeing of at-risk kids as the Department’s primary – and only – mission. Commissioner Ryan and his staff have been able to put dedicated State resources and narrower focus to good use.

“There’s still more work to do to get the sort of child welfare agency that New Jersey demands. We need to constantly strive for the absolute best, where kids have easy access to the sort of care and attention they need, and where no child falls through the cracks in the system. Under Commissioner Ryan’s leadership, we have made great strides, and I look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the State’s at-risk kids.”