Our Family Advocates provide support to foster, adoptive & kinship families in NJ.
Meet the Family Advocates!
Meet Lenore Bonilla, FAFS Family Advocate
(Burlington, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean)
Being a foster parent is a rewarding experience, but can be overwhelming and stressful at the same time. I believe that the role of a FAFS Family Advocate is to empower foster, adoptive and kinship caregivers to be an advocate for the children they care for, themselves and other resource families.
As a FAFS Family Advocate, I can help resource families to have a better relationship with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) and understand the requirements from the Office of Licensing (OOL).
I will listen to your concerns and frustrations and help to find a solution to ensure that your needs and those of the children in your care are being met and that you are aware of resources provided by FAFS as well as in your community. I will help you mediate when there are disagreements with DCP&P to ensure that your voice is heard. I will also help you to navigate and learn about the complex system that is foster care and give you a clear answer to your questions.
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent who needs support or assistance, contact Lenore today.
Meet Jessica Hernandez, FAFS Family Advocate -Bilingual-Spanish
(Bergen, Hudson, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and 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.
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.
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent who needs support or assistance, contact Jessica today.
Meet Sameerah Lewis-Diaab, FAFS Family Advocate
(Essex, Somerset and Union)
I’ve been a foster parent for a long time now. I’ve fostered 10 children and adopted 1. I have been assisting people from all walks of life every since I can remember.
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.
I provide a sense of security because they are able to vent and/or share information that they would not choose to share or would not know how to express to DCP&P. Having the ability to calm the waters before the storm when a foster parent calls in upset and not knowing where or who to turn to is advantageous. Most importantly, 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!
If you’re a foster, adoptive or kinship parent in need of support or assistance, contact Sameerah today.
We are currently assigning a FAFS Family Advocate to Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties. If you reside in this area, please contact Support Services Manager Corissa Kazar or by phone at 609.520.1500 ext. 332.
FAFS Family Advocates aid resource families in various ways including the following:
- 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 community groups in your area
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