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A Message from The Family Success Institute

June is National Family Month – what better time to celebrate families, with summer beginning and Father’s Day around the corner. It’s also a busy time for The Family Success Institute and the many organizations with whom we align. As we approach the halfway point for 2022, we want to share several important updates with you:
  • Our two pieces of legislation, the Children, Youth, and Families Bill of Rights and the Community Recovery and Family Success Act, are moving through the state legislature (read on for more details). 
  • Last month, the New Jersey Youth Justice Transformation Task Force issued a report recommending building three new youth prisons in the state to replace old ones. Our friends at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice have penned a powerful dissent to the out-of-touch decision that would maintain the status quo of investing in distress rather than preventative success. We have joined this dissent, and we encourage you to join in. You can sign the petition urging Gov. Murphy and Attorney General Platkin to take separate actions instead: creating a youth prison closure timeline; investing $100 million into community-based youth programs; and repurposing existing facilities once they are closed. Don’t forget to sign before the Juneteenth deadline!
  • Our flagship project to raise the voice and visibility of communities and families in identifying the policies and actions needed to achieve family success for all is gaining momentum! Led by Learning Community members and other community-based organizations, we have drafted a portfolio of summary policy papers and are preparing a statewide series of Community Action Forums (more on that below). 
A primary goal of FSI is to support and amplify the work of our Learning Community members and every organization that shares our common beliefs, so read on to learn more about their work and upcoming events, and always feel free to share important events and news with us. 

It's shaping up to be a busy summer! Wishing you all good health and a chance to relax and recharge too.

Tim Carden, Executive Director
Tom Blatner, Co-Founder & President, Board of Directors

An Update from the Learning Community

In our last Learning Community meeting, we had a robust update from members on upcoming events as well as from our five policy development workgroups, including the Early Childhood Success group. As a principal convener of that group, Gloria Aftanski provided an update on Little Hands, Big Futures, a community resource line streamlining access to services for parents and caregivers of children ages 0-5 in Middlesex County. 

We also heard from Asm. Reginald Atkins (D-Union) and Asw. Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen and Passaic), who shared inspiring messages and updates on the proposed Bill of Rights and the Community Recovery and Family Success Act – you can listen to their messages to the Learning Community by clicking their names!

If you missed the meeting, you can watch the recording here. Our next Learning Community meeting is June 22 at 8:30 a.m. If you would like to attend and do not have the Zoom meeting information, contact Lori Henry at

Learning Community Member Highlights

  • Congratulations to Charlie Venti, who was recently elected to serve as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees for Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). Charlie is the President of Inventive Strategies LLC, Executive Consultant to JANUS Solutions and a dedicated member of the FSI Learning Community and Board of Directors.
  • Congratulations to Asw. Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen and Passaic), who was recently appointed as President and CEO of the nonprofit agency Children’s Aid and Family Services.
  • Parents Inc. held its first in-person parent conference since the start of the pandemic! Parents participated in workshops, providing great insight and feedback, and took home masks, hand sanitizer, stuffed animals, toys and books for children and adults. This event acted as the first Community Action Forum in our series (more below), and more than 15 of the parents provided thoughtful, engaging and varied feedback on schools, grocery stores and much more. Congratulations to Kathy Roe, Rehta Onitiri, Erica Harris DeValve and all who helped make this event successful!
  • Congratulations to Gloria Aftanski, FSI Board Member and President/CEO of the United Way of Central NJ and Jorge Cruz, FSI Learning Community member and Executive Director of Greater Newark LISC in partnering to bring a Financial Opportunity Center to the residents of Perth Amboy.  The United Way secured a $420,000 federal earmark award through the sponsorship of Congressman Frank Pallone.
  • The public-private leadership of Monmouth ACTS presented their work at the recent annual gathering of the New Jersey Association of Counties and included an appeal to this non-partisan organization to support FSI’s proposed legislation.

Legislative News

The Family Success legislative package, which has secured multiple sponsors in both legislative chambers (see note above), consists of two bills – S1726/A3323 (the Bill of Rights for Children & Families) and S2367/A828 (the Community Recovery and Family Success Act). The Bill of Rights identifies the basic resources and support every family needs to successfully raise their children and makes access to them a right of every family rather than a privilege for some. 

The Community Recovery and Family Success Act establishes the administrative framework and three-year funding plan for community-based service networks to achieve that goal. FSI has prepared a funding proposal for S2367/A828 that allocates $770 million to community-based service networks over the next three years. This proposal targets resources to the communities where the needs are greatest, and recommends that funding for this landmark initiative be drawn from both the substantial surplus in state revenues for this fiscal year (FY 2023) and from the $9+ billion in federal American Rescue Plan funding the state and local governments are eligible to receive over the next three years. We’re grateful to Senators Nia Gill (D-Essex and Passaic), Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) and Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) as well as Representatives Reginald Atkins (D-Union), Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D- Hunterdon and Mercer), Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen and Passaic) and William Spearman (D-Camden) for introducing these bills. 

Every county, every community and every family stands to benefit from this bold investment in family success. This is the time to speak up and speak out! Let your legislators, local officials and community leaders know how we can transform our state’s future with passage of these bills.

Save the Date

Don’t miss the upcoming event from The Father Center of New Jersey, the “Platinum Dads Awards!” Join us on June 18 to recognize extraordinary fathers and father figures in our community. Learn more.

Hosting an event that The Family Success Institute should know about? Tell us by emailing Eliza Fink at

See Monmouth ACTS’ Community Engagement Network in Action

Here’s a great example of the mission of FSI in action! In Monmouth County, where the Monmouth ACTS initiative has been working to streamline services and serve residents better, the new Community Engagement Network is improving two-way communication between residents and Monmouth ACTS. Residents can learn about helpful services and programs through trusted community leaders; at the same time, residents can provide insight on distinct community needs. Watch a video from Monmouth ACTS to learn more. 

Coming Soon: Family Success Community Action Forums

The Family Success Institute will be hosting Community Action Forums throughout New Jersey to discuss important issues related to family and community success! We’ll be partnering with our Learning Community organizations to host small roundtables and create important platforms for residents to discuss topics including health care, financial success, child care and much more. These discussions will gather community-specific recommendations on how best to build the pillars of family success, and inform a Statewide Family Success Summit next year. Stay tuned for more details! 

If you are interested in helping to plan or attend these Forums, learn more by emailing Tim Carden.

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Make A Difference In New Jersey

The Family Success Institute is dedicated to transforming government policy and programs to ensure that all New Jersey families have the basic resources and supports they need to succeed in life as a right, not a privilege. To help us promote public dialogue through conversations, legislation and local action, please consider a donation. Your gift is an investment in the work we do to empower and support New Jersey families.  
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