N.J. to expand Camden youth program outreach

Gov. Chris Christie visited Camden Monday to announce a formal partnership between New Jersey’s Promise Community Initiative and the city’s Center for Family Services, a community outreach program.


The center sponsors activities including resume and job search training, food access through virtual grocery shopping, and reading programs.

Working with the state will allow the center broader access to students in and out of schools, Christie said.

“To take these and additional efforts to the next level, we must remove barriers to cooperation,” said Christie. “We need to bring in more local public and private entities along with various state agencies so they can share their resources and their knowledge within this city.”

There has been a lack of communication between the nonprofit and the school system, mainly because student information cannot be shared, said Merilee Rutolo, the center’s CEO . A majority of the Center’s programs are out of school.

Now that the state is involved, it can allow the district to share certain information, which Rutolo said would allow the center to more comprehensively case-manage a child.

“We’re at the front end of how this can benefit Camden, and the first part of it is to get everyone from local, state and private providers on the same page,” she said.

“I think the goal over time would be that social services would be more integrated into schools, so that there’s not such a dichotomy between how students receive services.”

As of now, Rutolo is not aware of any funding that will come from this partnership, but she said that the collaboration is in the early stages.

Christie indicated that this partnership would be structured the same as one in Paterson, that has been successful for the past three years.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal