Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System: The New Jersey Natural Parent Support Program . 2. Natural Parent Support Program


Within the framework of the DYFS central region, the NPSP provides holistic and intensive in-home services to parents and children who are preparing for, or in the process of, reunification. The purposes of the program are to help parents with the difficult transition when reunifying with their children and to ensure that reunification of the family is successful.

Catholic Charities, under the Diocese of Trenton, is under contract to DYFS to administer the NPSP in the central region. The NPSP contract began in April 1999, and program services started in June 1999.

As part of the program development, Catholic Charities implemented a comprehensive planning process for the NPSP. This process included utilizing a DYFS Resource Development Specialist (RDS) at each of the six DYFS district offices to assist with the program. The RDS acts as the "gatekeeper" to the program, handling referrals from DYFS to the program and finding resources and services to support families in the program. Catholic Charities also instituted regular program planning sessions which are held every 7 to 8 weeks. At these sessions, key people from DYFS; NPSP staff including the program director, the RDS, program supervisors, and caseworkers; and on occasion the state contract/business managers meet to discuss problems and issues encountered. Issues discussed may include communication between county and program staff, problems with individual cases, resource problems, or contract questions. The sessions have been successful at identifying potential problems and working them out before they develop further.