Today an independent federal court monitor released a progress report on New Jersey’s child welfare reform effort. The study covers the first half of 2012. There’s some good news in the report, but there appear to be an area of concern that remains.

Caseworker visits to foster children remain at 53 percent. Children’s Rights Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry calls that statistic, “startlingly low.” She strongly believes that New Jersey can’t afford to lose ground in such a critical area of care for foster kids.

“DCF (Department of Children and Families) continues to struggle with maintaining appropriate caseloads, timely case planning, coordinating family meetings and addressing the needs of children aging out of foster care,” says Lowry. “New Jersey has focused considerable resources on reviewing its operations and training its workforce, but has been unable to translate these efforts into improvements in the provision of services across the state.”

Lowry says the state has done a good job in training its workforce, but needs to translate that training into consistently delivering the core services that directly impact vulnerable kids.

“Given New Jersey’s accomplishments, there is reason to believe that the DCF should be able to achieve reform in all areas addressed by the system-wide court order,” says Lowry. “Thanks to the state’s recruiting efforts, DCF’s supply of licensed foster homes and relative caregivers ensures that DCF has adequate placement options for children. In addition, New Jersey is becoming a national model for providing timely health care to foster kids.”

Read the report and get information on Children’s Rights’ New Jersey’s campaign here.