NJ child protection agency improves, but concerns linger

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Nine years ago, New Jersey agreed to a federal monitor for its Department of Children and Families to settle a class-action lawsuit over child protection.

A new report shows progress improving the system, but caseloads continue to be a problem.

The monitor found that visitations between parents and children in foster care have improved. And the agency is making progress in placing children with adoptive families.

Rising caseloads for workers that investigate child abuse is a concern, said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

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“If a caseworker is overwhelmed with too many cases, they may not be able to get to families as quickly, provide services as quickly, or the quality of their work may not be as good,” she said’

And that’s how the system got into trouble in the first place, Zalkind said.

Another concern, she said, is an increase in the number of children who are re-abused within a year of being returned home from foster care.

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