Commissioner’s Monthly Report. [New Jersey].
New Jersey. Department of Children and Families.
State Resource Technical Report
Published: January 2021
New Jersey Department of Children and Families
222 South Warren Street PO Box 729, 3rd Floor
Trenton, NJ 08625-0729
Like all other aspects of life in New Jersey, the child welfare system has been significantly impacted by the public health crisis. The extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 emergency have required DCF’s operations to be responsive and evolutionary, changing the way that we conduct our work while remaining dutiful to our critical mission of service to New Jersey’s children and their families. At the pandemic’s onset, it was necessary to undertake swift modification in many of DCF’s operations, including the closure of offices and regional & satellite schools, conversion of 6,700 staff members to remote work and implementing adapted practices and policies to guide our daily interactions with children, families and our own staff and partner providers. 4 Just as the State has gradually re-opened, DCF is likewise resuming certain functions. The data contained in this report shows marked shifts in measures of performance in certain areas of casework, most notably measurements related to in-person visitation and family team meetings. When reviewing this data, it is important to recognize: while the operating rules and expectations have undergone timely and significant changes, the metrics included in this report have not yet been altered to measure the practice expectations that necessarily continue to evolve as the pandemic itself continues. In other words, DCF is sharing “post-COVID-19” data using “pre-COVID-19” performance metrics. Data from the early months of the pandemic shows declines in performance associated with underlying processes that were temporarily suspended (i.e., certain types of in-person contacts) the inability of DCF’s electronic case management system to capture all types of virtual contacts (i.e., video conference and phone communication,) and other technological deficiencies (i.e., lack ofconnectivity or technology.) More recent trends, however, show a gradual return toward “pre-COVID19” levels of performance. It is our expectation that these upward trends will continue. As the needs of children and families in New Jersey change in light of the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, DCF’s operations, practice standards, policies, and resources will continue to evolve responsively and reflectively. DCF will not, however, change our commitment to continued monitoring of performance and transparent dissemination of data to the public. (Author abstract)
COVID-19; DISASTER RESPONSE; CHILD WELFARE SERVICES; HOME VISITING PROGRAMS; REMOTE VISITATION; REMOTE SERVICE DELIVERY; TELEHEALTH; FAMILY GROUP CONFERENCING; NEW JERSEY