Our Family Advocates provide support to licensed resource parents in NJ; foster, adoptive & kinship families; as well as foster, adoptive & kinship parent applicants.
Meet the Family Advocate for your county:
Meet Corissa Gesicki, Support Services Manager
As Support Services Manager, I will assist foster, adoptive and kinship families in obtaining the best information and resources available in order to help empower them as parents.
I can navigate and obtain resources and information that will assist families and let them know they are never alone in supporting and providing for children in foster, adoptive or kinship care.
Previously, I worked as a Family Service Specialist Worker for DCP&P (formerly known as DYFS). I understand the struggles foster, adoptive and kinship families face. It was at DC&P during an investigation I had to remove an 11-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister. This was the first time these children were placed in foster care. They were frightened. When en-route to their foster home, the boy asked me a question that stays with me to this day: “So who will love us now?”More
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Mercer, Hunterdon, Somerset or Warren County New Jersey who needs support or assistance, contact me today or reach out to me in our LGBTQIA group at FAFS’ Online Support Network. Sign up. Already have an account? Log In.
Meet Jessica Hernandez, FAFS Family Advocate (Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem, Warren)
As a FAFS’ Family Advocate (FFA), my goal is to assist resource parents by providing them with the resources and supports in their area along with Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) and Office of Licensing (OOL) policy and procedure breakdowns and clarifications.
The most rewarding part about working with foster families is knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others by simply being that listening ear, by showing empathy and compassion, and ultimately by making sure that foster families feel supported. The experience alone makes it rewarding.
I will give my resource parents the comfort and security in knowing that they can contact me for any questions and concerns that they might have and that I will do my best to help them navigate through resources available to them.
As a FFA, I hope to provide foster parents with knowledge on the policies and procedures of DCP&P and OOL in a language that they are comfortable with and understand. I will give my resource parents the comfort and security in knowing that they can contact me for any questions and concerns that they might have and that I will do my best to help them navigate through resources available to them. More
An experience that has led me to become an FFA is having worked as a Child Specific Social Worker in the Intensive Foster Care Department at my previous employment in Massachusetts. It was there I gained a deep understanding of the foster care system from every perspective — the foster parent and the child/children in placement.
I enjoyed being able to connect to the different parties and serve as that liaison/middle person. Foster, adoptive and kinship families require lots of support, and I felt that this is what I was meant to do. Although it comes with its ups and downs, knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of others is my ultimate self-fulfillment.
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent in Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Salem or Warren County New Jersey who needs support or assistance, contact Jessica today or reach out to me in our Interracial Fostering and Adopting group at FAFS’ Online Support Network. Sign up. Already have an account? Log In.
Meet Elias Jones, FAFS Family Advocate (Essex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Sussex)
As a FAFS Family Advocate I work with foster, adoptive and kinship families and give them hope and understanding.
I am here to provide support and help create an uplifting and empowering environment.
I became an FFA after working with three siblings who were malnourished and neglected. I had heard of instances like this before, but this was the first time I had chance to make a difference. Understanding my responsibility towards the children, I was able to get them into a foster parent’s home where they received appropriate medical care. Now healthy, the three children are thriving and have been adopted by their foster family. Witnessing this transformation firsthand inspired me to continue the mission of helping children in foster care.More
Helping children and families is my life’s work. I have a background working with children and adults with intellectual disabilities, co-occurring disorders and mental health issues. I understand the importance of assessing the needs of a child who is in foster care. I am here to provide support and help create an uplifting and empowering environment.
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent in Essex, Passaic, Morris, Monmouth, Ocean or Sussex County New Jersey who needs support or assistance, contact me today or reach out to me in our Interracial Fostering or Adopting group at FAFS’ Online Support Network. Sign up. Already have an account? Log In.
Meet Valerie Kerr, FAFS Family Advocate (Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth, Ocean)As a FAFS Family Advocate, I am here to provide support, information and encouragement to assist foster, adoptive, and kinship families with navigating the resources available to them.
I believe that the welfare of children is of vital importance to society and that all children deserve to grown up in a nurturing and safe environment.
In 2011, my first opportunity to work with young adults who are or were involved with DCP&P came when I was hired as a Scholarship Associate with FAFS Scholarship Department. I was there not only to administer a scholarship to deserving young men and women but also I was there to help them make the most of their post secondary educational experience. Many of them were unsure how to get the assistance they needed whether financially or academically. I helped them advocate for themselves. More
I enjoy working with children and families. In my previous experience, I worked as a preschool teacher for children between the ages of 12-24 months. I have also been employed as a teacher’s assistant for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Spending time with children can be an extremely rewarding experience.
Resource parents have many responsibilities to a number of individuals: the child placed in their home, DCP&P, the child’s biological family and their own family. It is not an easy task to navigate the world of child welfare. Resource parents can sometimes feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of professionals they may interact with when caring for a child in placement such as Law Guardians, Case Managers, Resource Family Support Workers, teachers, doctors and nurses. I am available to provide support and understanding to resource parents, as well as a listening ear. I can also help with navigating through the many policies and procedures they can be faced with.
I believe that the welfare of children is of vital importance to society and that all children deserve to grown up in a nurturing and safe environment. Being with the child on a daily basis, resource parents have a unique opportunity to advocate for the needs of the child in their care and provide a positive influence. I am excited to help support families who provide a home for New Jersey’s most vulnerable children.
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent in Atlantic , Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth, and Ocean County New Jersey who needs support or assistance, contact me today or or reach out to me at FAFS’ Online Support Network. Sign up. Already have an account? Log In.
Meet Sameerah Lewis-Diaab, FAFS Family Advocate (Bergen, Burlington, Hudson, Middlesex, Somerset Union)
I’ve been a foster parent for nearly 10 years now. I’ve fostered 10 children and adopted 1. I have been assisting people from all walks of life every since I can remember; to get paid for it is a wonderful reward.
I provide that listening ear when there is an issue that may be of no importance to someone else, but is vital to foster, adoptive and kinship parents!
As a FAFS Family Advocate I am able to provide a sense of confidence and empowerment to foster, adoptive and kinship parents by supplying them with the appropriate information from DCP&P policy/procedure to handle whatever their issues and/or concerns may be. I have the willingness to research services that are not immediately available in order to help parents help the children in their care as much as possible.More
My work in helping children and families is most rewarding. I was asked to join a Family Team Meeting of two teenage siblings who were seriously acting out (not bathing, cutting school, not cleaning, fighting, leaving without permission). The foster parent had requested their removal. During the meeting I observed the two sisters who were coming into their own young womanhood were struggling with not being with their biological mother. I listened with extreme care to get a heartbeat on why these young women were acting out. At the conclusion of the meeting, I assisted in composing household rules for the girls as follows: Prepare for school the night before, (do homework and get school clothes out), help with household chores, do not throw food in the garbage, no lying, bathe and shower daily, set alarm at a comfortable time approx. 6am, no cutting classes, no fighting each other, come straight home from school, and always contact their foster mom for permission to go anywhere! The girls signed the rules that day, and today, the younger of the siblings is under KLG (kinship legal guardianship) with the foster parent, and the older sibling is now living independently. I am proud to help retain foster homes so we have more safe havens for our children.
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent in Union, Bergen, Burlington, Hudson, Middlesex or Somerset County New Jersey in need of support or assistance, contact me today or or reach out to me in our Teens group at FAFS’ Online Support Network. Sign up. Already have an account? Log In.
FAFS Family Advocates aid resource families in various ways including the following:
- Advocate on your behalf with CP&P (formerly DYFS) and Office of Licensing
- Answer questions and prepare correspondence or documentation
- Attend CP&P (formerly DYFS) meetings with you as well as dispositional conferences and/or administrative reviews
- Provide in-depth information about CP&P (formerly DYFS) policies and procedures and the Manual of Requirements for Resource Family Parents
- Explain the institutional abuse investigation process as well as the possible outcomes
- Act as a liaison/mediator between you and CP&P (formerly DYFS) as well as other community providers
Assist applicants through the licensing process
- Work with you to identify local support through connecting with a FAFS volunteer committee or affiliate in your area
When should applicants contact their FAFS Family Advocate?
- When they have questions about foster care or adoption
- When they have questions about the licensing process
When should foster parents contact their FAFS Family Advocate?
- When they have questions about CP&P (formerly DYFS) policies, procedures and licensing requirements
- When they are informed that an Institutional Abuse investigation has started
- When they want a FAFS Family Advocate to accompany them to meetings with CP&P (formerly DYFS)
- When they want to question a CP&P (formerly DYFS) decision and/or action
- When they need someone to talk to about foster care issues
When should foster parents, who are interested in adopting children in care, contact their FAFS Family Advocate?
- When they need information on the adoption procedure and subsidy program
- When they are not in agreement with the subsidy decision
When should parents, who have adopted through CP&P (formerly DYFS), contact their FAFS Family Advocate?
- When they need information about available services
- If they need to request a review of their adoption subsidy