An Award Winning Charity in NJ

FAFS is Proud to be Recognized for Our Efforts on Behalf of Foster Adoptive & Kinship Families

FAFS, established in 1974, is an award winning charity that has won praise on the county, state and national level. It is truly an honor to be recognized for the work we do for children in foster & kinship care, children adopted from foster & kinship care, and the families who give them the safe home that all children deserve. Some of our recent awards include:

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New Jersey’s Foster And Adoptive Family Services Selected as State Foster Parent Association Of The Year by the National Foster Parent Association

Nearly 40 years ago, Sue Dondiego, her husband Bernie, and their friend and fellow foster parent Hattie Talley, started Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). What began as a casual meeting around a kitchen table to share advice on fostering became the first organization to receive state funding for training, advocacy and foster home recruitment. Today, FAFS still uses federal/state funding to provide these valuable services to foster parents, but has also broadened its scope to include privately-funded programs directly impacting the lives of children in foster care. In recognition of the organization’s ongoing accomplishments, the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) has selected FAFS as their 2012 State Foster Parent Association of the Year.

“From its humble beginnings as an all volunteer organization to the present day, FAFS has focused their time, talents and hard work to develop programs, projects and activities that would improve the lives of resource parents and the children in their care,” says Dondiego. “We are successful because we have never lost of our original goal of supporting foster and adoptive parents. It is truly an honor to receive this award from the NFPA.”

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Middlesex County Foster and Adoptive Family Services Selected as Local Foster Parent Association of the Year by the National Foster Parent Association

“I’ve volunteered for many nonprofits over the past 35 years who have strived to do good in the world,” says Middlesex County Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) Volunteer Committee Chair Mary Engelmeyer, “but many times, people’s egos got in the way of the mission. When I started volunteering with FAFS in Middlesex County, I was struck by the difference. When it comes down to it, everyone is able to put their own ideas and egos aside and is willing to do what’s best for the kids. “As a testament to the volunteers’ ongoing successful efforts on behalf of children in foster care and the families who care for them, the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) has selected Middlesex County FAFS as their 2012 Local Foster Parent Association of the Year.

While Engelmeyer, as the Volunteer Committee Chair, is thrilled to receive this recognition, she is quick to share that her committee’s success is the result of years of dedication on the part of many people. “I stand on the shoulders of many,” she says, “and I am fortunate to volunteer with an amazing group of people whose only interest is in loving, cherishing and nurturing abused and neglected children. They are a fabulous group to work with, and I’m glad the NFPA is honoring our efforts.”

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FAFS Second Vice President Janet Farrand Receives Prestigious New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award

Janet Farrand, President of the Foster and Adoptive Family Services Foundation (FAFSF) and Second Vice President of Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), received a 2011-2012 New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award in recognition of her volunteer service to youth. The New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards honors people who perform outstanding community service. Award recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward. Farrand’s impact on children and youth in foster care in New Jersey is unprecedented.

Farrand was a driving force in the creation and passing of the Tuition Waiver Bill, which provides eligible foster youth with full tuition to college, university or vocational school. Her work resulted in the launch of the FAFS administered New Jersey Foster Care Scholars program. Over 140 students have completed degree or certificate programs as NJFC Scholars at accredited colleges, universities, and trade/career schools since the program began eight year ago. The 2010-2011 academic year resulted in 32 graduates, the most in any single year of the program. Farrand founded FAFS’ Fostering Wishes for Children Program, which helps foster parents pay for “little extras,” such as art or music lessons, prom bids, and more experiences that boost their children in foster care’s self-esteem. Over 1,300 wishes have been granted since the program’s inception. She remains one of the top supporters of FAFS’ Camp Scholarships program, which has given over 200 children in foster care the opportunity to learn positive skills and gain happy summer memories. Literally hundreds of children and youth in foster care benefit daily from Farrand’s volunteer efforts.

Farrand “is truly a remarkable woman who always put the needs of others above herself,” says Mary Jane Awarachow, FAFS CEO. “As one of the presenters at the awards ceremony said, ‘The reason volunteers don’t get paid is because their work is priceless.’ This certainly applies to Janet.”

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Janet Farrand Honored as a Finalist for The Russell Berrie Foundation Making a Difference Award

Janet Farrand, President of the Foster and Adoptive Family Services Foundation (FAFSF) and Second Vice President of Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), received a $5,000 prize as a finalist in the 2012 Russ Berrie Making a Difference Awards. According to their website, “The Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference celebrates New Jersey’s unsung heroes—everyday people whose extraordinary volunteer efforts have made a real difference in the lives of others. Created in 1997, the annual award program honors nineteen individuals who have performed outstanding community service or an act of heroism.”

Farrand, a 2010 Female Legends of Morris County award winner, is no stranger to accolades. She recently received a 2011-2012 New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award in recognition of her volunteer service to youth. Like the Russ Berrie Foundation Making a Difference Awards, The New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards honors people who perform outstanding community service.

Farrand’s accolades are “extremely well-deserved,” enthuses Mary Jane Awarachow, FAFS CEO. “The amount of time and effort Janet puts into helping children in out-of-home-placement, and the families who care from them, is truly incredible. I am so pleased to see her honored for her commitment and many accomplishments.”

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Middlesex County Foster and Adoptive Family Services Volunteer Committee Chair Mary Engelmeyer Honored as a United Way Hometown Hero

As the Volunteer Committee Chair for Foster and Adoptive Family Services Middlesex County, Mary Engelmeyer always goes above and beyond to ensure that local foster, adoptive and kinship families have access to every opportunity available. Her meetings boast the best attendance out of all 21 counties in New Jersey, and this is largely due to her extraordinary efforts. At each meeting, there is a clothing exchange, so children who come into foster care with only the clothes on their backs, if that, have something seasonally appropriate to wear. The trainings Engelmeyer offers help caregivers better cope with their children’s behavior, which allows them to treat the children with even more compassion, helping the children to thrive and be happier and more successful, both academically and socially.

As a foster parent herself, Engelmeyer knows first-hand about the importance of doing whatever is best for the children in her home. She has welcomed birth parents striving to regain their children, helping them learn proper parenting skills and encouraging them to stay on track. She has prepared children in foster care to leave her home to either return to their parents or move to an adoptive home, creating life books for them with pictures and notes so they would know their story, develop a sense of identity, and most importantly, know they were loved. She has stayed in touch with many children who were in her care and is a wonderful example to other caregivers how to make a positive impact in the life of a child.

When asked about her feelings on winning a United Way Hometown Hero award, Engelmeyer acknowledged that, while it was nice to be honored, her reasons for being a foster / adoptive parent run much deeper. “I just do what I love,” she said.

Help Foster Children and the Families Who Care for Them

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