Learn more about the specific causes and legislation our volunteers are championing on behalf of children within the New Jersey child welfare system.
OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN FOR CHILDREN
"Ombudsman" is a Swedish word meaning "representative." An ombudsman assists individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns.
Public ombudsmen exist to help the mentally ill, elderly, and disabled, but children have no such advocate and their rights to safety and permanency are being undermined. Those who care about children are left with limited options short of suing the State of New Jersey, putting a greater burden on our inadequately staffed judicial system. Please help us try to fix this!
Passing the bills linked above into law is CAANJ's top legislative priority.These bills would allow for meaningful accountability and oversight over services provided to children by the State of New Jersey!
Creating an Office of Ombudsman for Children would help:
Ensure that the state is providing effective, appropriate, and timely services for children in resource care or at risk for abuse or neglect;
Give families a way to address their concerns short of suing the state of New Jersey and further burdening the judiciary; and
Establish a 24-hour toll-free telephone hotline where resource families could request assistance or file complaints against the Department of Children and Families (and subdivisions, such as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency) without concerns of retaliation from the Department.
The Child Advocacy Association of New Jersey supports this bill as it would:
Drive Solutions - Help the Department of Children and Families achieve their goal of ensuring that children and their families receive high quality services leading to permanency and stability.
Increase Transparency - Ensuring that information about systemic issues are shared with everyone.
Provide Oversight and Accountability - Build confidence in children and families that their concerns will be taken seriously and that gaps in child welfare services will be addressed.
This office is urgently needed to help counter child welfare trends that are putting children at risk.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
A large number of judicial vacancies (58 at last count) have forced courts to almost completely stop trying civil cases in SIX counties in NJ (Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Cumberland, Glouster & Salem). Other counties are also significantly impacted. This crisis of justice continues to worsen each day.
What is going on?
Too many out: In NJ, judges must retire at age 70. A large number of mandatory retirements expected to occur in the coming year will only heighten the crisis.
Too few in: Only 20 candidates nominated by Governor Murphy are currently being vetted to fill these vacancies, and an unknown number of appointments may be blocked by Senatorial Courtesy, the ability of a single senator to block a nomination.
This simple equation yields unacceptable delays in access to justice for children and families. At the moment, there is a backlog of 75,000 cases across all case types.
The Judicial Vacancies and backlogs have a ripple effect on all case types, meaning that:
Contested divorce trials are almost impossible to schedule in six counties, leaving
Child custody hearings are being delayed
Some children are staying in foster care for years longer than necessary while awaiting termination of parental rights trials
Children are waiting...
For FOREVER FAMILIES.
Miriam’s Heart, the New Jersey CarePortal Network, and the Child Advocacy Association of New Jersey (CAANJ), serve diverse constituents, including government agencies, churches, businesses, schools, and other faith-based and secular organizations with a focus on helping to support children and families in crisis regardless of race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, political leanings or any other reason that might otherwise be used to withhold help from those in need.