DCF Commissioner Shares Challenges of Living in Poverty
Steve Adubato and Christine Norbut Beyer, Commissioner, NJ Department of Children and Families, discuss poverty and the challenges it presents for families in the state. They also discuss the early intervention services available to help with the everyday struggles facing these families.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. We are coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio. It is my honor and my pleasure to welcome, for the first time, Christine Norbut Beyer, who is Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. Good to see you Commissioner. Yeah, thank you. Nice meeting you. Same here. Describe your organization. So the Department of Children and Families is the, you know, cabinet-level department. We are the state agency focused on all things children, and so while we do have protective services, formerly DYFS, now Child Protection and Permanency, we also run a number of other programs for children, for families, youth, you know, up to age 21... substance abuse, mental health treatment, we do a lot of prevention services. So, you know, we are a lot more than protective services. Commissioner, I'm curious about this. The most pressing, difficult, perplexing problems facing our most vulnerable children... what are they? I think one of the challenges that, you know, we have in the state right now is that poverty is a big issue for many of the families that we serve within the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, and even in some of our other divisions, and so you know, there are a lot of issues that happen as a result of that. You know, some of that is the stress of being... having... you know, trying to make ends meet with your family, and so you know, I would say that, for children, it's just wanting... get... the support that they need, or having the support that they need from their families, feeling safe, having their basic needs met. Is it emotional support? Physical... nutrition issues? We're talking all of it? It's all of the above. Yeah. All of the above. And is it disproportionately...? The children you serve, the families you serve, are they disproportionately socioeconomically in a different place on the ladder? Poor? It depends on the service. You know, I think that there's a misnomer that Child Welfare, or Child Protective Services, typically serve low-income families, or that, you know, we serve, disproportionately, in inner cities, and really, that's not the case. I mean unfortunately, child abuse and neglect knows no socio-economic bounds. And so for Protection and Permanency, that crosses, you know, barriers. But I would say that in some of our other programs, some of our prevention programs, our Division of Community Partnerships, you know, there's... that's where we see families who are struggling financially, who are on public assistance. You know, it's important for us to be able to ensure that young children get to..."