Restore PACS Funding
Restore PACS Funding
I want to express my extreme disappointment in the decision to fully defund Pre and Post Adoption Counseling Services (PACS) as part of this year’s budget cuts. While I understand that these are very difficult financial times and tough decisions have to be made, the impact of this decision will have a significant impact on some of the most vulnerable and underserved children in our state.
PACS has been in existence in New Jersey for approximately 40 years, providing much needed pre- and post-adoption counseling for children and families, primarily children who are in DCP&P custody and who will not be able to be reunified with their birth parents. Our primary goal is to support placement stability and prepare families for successful adoptions. PACS therapists are specially trained in adoption work and as such, provide a service that cannot be accessed via traditional outpatient or CSOC services. PACS therapists provide education to help parents understand their foster child’s trauma and behaviors and also teach effective attachment specific parenting skills to avoid further disruptions in placement. Multiple moves in foster care and the failure to find permanent homes have significant negative impacts on children who have already suffered great trauma, and PACS has helped time and again to avoid disruptions and maintain stability.
PACS has had consistently positive outcomes that have led to multiple expansions throughout the years. Since the most recent expansion, PACS services reach over 1000 children which includes children whose goals are Kinship Legal Guardianship, kinship adoption, non-relative adoption and Select Home adoption. Two years ago, PACS programs partnered with a researcher to begin a pilot study and develop the PACS model as an evidence-based practice. Several states have joined talks to participate in the second phase of the study to replicate PACS, further demonstrating the value and need. Last year, The Child Welfare League of America invited several PACS directors and the researcher on the project to present on the development of the model and our steps for achieving evidence base. It is mind-boggling that a program that has had so much success for such a long period of time would be completely decimated.
COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges and unprecedented decisions must be made. However, I urge you to restore funding for PACS, for the sake of the children of NJ who have been removed from their birth parents and will not return to their care. Urge DCF to consider cuts and reform in other areas, rather than to take such an important service away from our traumatized children.