Federal Court Hearing on Child Welfare Progress in New Jersey: Release of CSSP Monitoring Report for the Charlie and Nadine H v. Murphy Sustainability and Exit Plan

Newark, NJ (August 2, 2021)—On Wednesday, August 4th, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), Federal Court Monitors for the Charlie and Nadine H. v. Murphy child welfare reform litigation, will release a new monitoring report documenting progress that New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has made toward meeting the requirements of the Sustainability and Exit Plan (SEP) negotiated as part of the Charlie and Nadine H. v. Murphy class-action lawsuit. Reports are released to the Honorable Stanley Chesler of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and the public approximately every six months. The current report covers performance during July 1 to December 31, 2020.

Judith Meltzer, CSSP President and Court-Appointed Monitor, will report on the state’s progress to Judge Chesler at a virtual public hearing in federal court. The hearing will also review how DCF has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on performance. See the conclusion of this press statement for instructions on how to request attendance to the virtual hearing.

During this monitoring period, while COVID-19 continued to test the endurance of the children, youth, and families of New Jersey and its state and local leaders, DCF’s steady and committed leadership and staff, strengthened by the progress made over the past decade, continued to meet the myriad challenges before them. Despite the challenges the pandemic continued to present between July and December 2020, the State again sustained progress on most of the SEP outcomes already achieved, ending the monitoring period having met 44 of the 48 performance measures as well as maintaining performance on each of the required Foundational Elements, such as training, services for domestic violence survivors, and manageable caseloads for workers. As discussed in the report that will be released on Wednesday, while performance in a few areas has not yet rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, in most areas, DCF maintained similar performance levels as prior to the start of the pandemic. This notable achievement is the result of DCF’s efforts to establish virtual settings for meetings and visits between workers and families and families with their children.

“Throughout the crisis, DCF has continued to build infrastructure to strengthen its key initiatives as part of the Department’s strategic plan— New Jersey is moving forward with an ambitious plan to transform child welfare services in ways the support families and prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Judith Meltzer, CSSP President and Court Monitor of the lawsuit. She continued, “The Governor’s and the legislature’s continued support and investment in DCF’s programs and services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, remains vital to DCF’s vision that all families in New Jersey are safe, healthy, and connected.”

Read CSSP’s Monitoring Reports on this case here.

To request attendance to the virtual public hearing in federal court taking place on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at 10:00AM, please e-mail ecfhelp@njd.uscourts.gov stating that you would like to remotely attend the Charlie and Nadine H. public hearing (case number 99-3678). Include your name and telephone number as well as the case name and number in your email request. By submitting a request, participants consent to follow the Court’s audio and video teleconferencing rules.

About CSSP. The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) works to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children, youth, and families thrive. We translate ideas into action, promote public policies grounded in equity, and support strong and inclusive communities. We advocate with and for all children, youth, and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices. Learn more at www.CSSP.org.