Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report. 4.2.2 Statewide FPS Case Characteristics

01/08/2001

FPS programs are required by contract to collect and report social and demographic information on the families that they serve. Statistics are available through Fiscal Year 1997, as reported in the Family Preservation Annual Report. DYFS has placed an emphasis on having the families served by FPS programs reflect the composition of the DYFS general population and the communities they serve.

In New Jersey, the FPS programs have historically served more one-parent families. In FY96, 57% of families served were one-parent families (single, divorced, separated, and widowed). Additionally, from FY 1992-95, approximately 39% of families served were reported as having AFDC as their primary source of income. FY96 showed an increase in this percentage to 48%.

The largest racial group served statewide is white families, including around 40% of families served in FPS each year, as shown in Table 4-3below.6 The percentage of white families increased slightly from 41.5% in FY 1994 to 44.8% in FY 97 with a corresponding 4.3 percent decrease in the percentage of African American families served.

 

Table 4-3.
Race/ethnicity of families served in FPS
Race of Families Served FY1994 FY1995 FY1996 FY1997
White 41.9% 39.7% 42.7% 44.8%
African-American 37.1% 37.7% 36.5% 32.8%
Hispanic 14.3% 15.7% 14.4% 16.5%
Other 6.7% 6.9% 6.4% 5.9%

In FY1995, there was discussion during state budget planning that FPS programs were not adequately serving the appropriate population.7 The DYFS Program Report for Fiscal Years 1995 and 1996 suggests that the FPS caseload should ideally reflect the active DYFS and foster care caseloads. Statewide, about two-thirds of the children in foster care are African-American, while 37% of FPS population served during the year was African-American. There is some county variation. The African-American populations of certain counties' FPS and total active caseloads (e.g., Essex, 84% FPS and 86% active caseload) more closely match (see Table 4-4). While there is some possible bias in comparing FPS full-year statistics to point-in time DYFS caseload demographics, DYFS suggests that caseload demographics have not changed much over the past several years. Most programs have not served African-American families in the same proportion as the foster care caseload.

 

Table 4-4. 
Percent of FPS, DYFS total, and foster care caseload that is African-American by County
County  Percent of Caseloadb
FPSa DYFS Total Caseload DYFS Foster Care Caseload

Bergen

Burlington

Camden

Essex

Monmouth

Ocean

Passaic

Statewide

15%

23%

33%

84%

26%

12%

39%

37%

25%

32%

54%

86%

39%

19%

45%

50%

33%

44%

67%

92%

59%

37%

60%

67%

a The report uses cumulative yearly percentages as reported by FPS programs. The DYFS Active Caseload counts for Total and Foster Care are point in time. Active caseload can reflect duration bias for those children remaining longer in the DYFS actual or foster care caseloads.

b Family Preservation Services. Program Report for Fiscal Years 1995 and 1996, July 1997, pg. 43.


During the three-year period FY1994-FY1996, older children continued to be targeted by family preservations programs. However, the percentage of older children, age 13-17, decreased from 56% in FY95 to 37% in FY 97. DYFS credits this shift to an increase in service to children in reunification cases, where the distribution of ages of children tends to be younger. In addition, several of the newer programs, including Huntingdon, Ocean, and Somerset served a majority of younger children in FY1996.


6 Family Preservation Services, Annual Program Report for Fiscal Year 1997 (Draft), April 1999, Pg. 47, DYFS Office of Policy, Planning and Support.

7 Excerpted from Background paper, DHS budget 1995-96 , New Jersey State Auditor.