In New Jersey, referrals can be made to family preservation services for both placement prevention and family reunification. As described in the DYFS family preservation standards manual, placement prevention applies to families where one or more children are at imminent risk being placed into foster care. Children in short term emergency placements at risk of longer placements are also eligible for placement prevention services. Families with children already in placement for any period of time are eligible for referral to FPS as reunification cases. Workers can refer families when they are preparing to reunite with a child currently in placement within 7 days. This is regardless of the length of time the child was in placement.
Family reunification cases in family preservation are eligible for the same services as placement prevention cases. By definition, the criterion for imminent risk of placement does not apply for reunification cases. For reunification cases, workers and FPS screeners appear to have broader latitude in determining when a family will benefit from FPS service. In addition, FPS programs are monitored for contractual compliance in preventing children from avoiding placement. Reunification cases are excluded from this monitoring, so these cases are perceived as under less scrutiny by the programs.