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A Call to Action for New Jersey's Children
Date:9/15/2009

Raise Me Up gives people wanting to help a menu of options

CAMDEN, N.J., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The state of New Jersey is host to a powerful new national multimedia campaign that sheds light on the challenges of children in foster care - and what the public can do to help. It begins this week with a dramatic call to action that empowers people to lift up the lives of children and families right here in New Jersey.

(Logo:http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070116/CASEYFAMILYLOGO)

The campaign, called Raise Me Up, is an effort started by Casey Family Programs, a national operating foundation with a mission to provide and improve - and ultimately prevent the need for - foster care. Raise Me Up is a critical component of Casey's 2020 Strategy, which seeks to safely reduce the need for foster care in America by half over the next 11 years.

"All of us have a role to play in raising up the nearly 500,000 children in foster care across our nation," said Cari DeSantis, executive vice president of public affairs and communications for Casey Family Programs. "Raise Me Up is more than an awareness campaign. It is a call to action on behalf of children right here in New Jersey who just need the helping hands of caring adults and a committed community to reach their full potential."

In New Jersey, Casey Family Programs is partnering with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and local nonprofit groups to improve the lives of children in foster care, strengthen families and find safe permanent homes for vulnerable children.

"This campaign gives New Jerseyans a one-stop opportunity to find ways they can help children in need throughout the state and in their own communities," New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine said. "With this new effort, we are bringing together community organizations, corporate supporters and New Jersey's child welfare system to engage and strengthen communities in new and innovative ways."

The campaign uses powerful television, radio and transit advertisements to highlight the problems that can often affect children in foster care - such as mental illness, homelessness and prison - if they are unable to successfully reunify with their families, find a safe, loving and permanent family, or obtain the support they need to strive as independent young adults.

"We are so grateful that Casey Family Programs wanted to bring this inspiring campaign to our state," DCF Commissioner Kimberly Ricketts said. "We truly believe there is something for everyone on the Raise Me Up Web site - no matter how much time you have or where you are, you can make a difference."

As the lead partner in launching this ambitious campaign in New Jersey, DCF will harness the vast potential of people who want to help - by fostering or adopting children, volunteering their time or raising awareness about foster care in their community.

Those moved to action by the ads can visit the www.RaiseMeUp.org Web site, which will give people more information about foster care and what they can do to help strengthen families and children in their community.

The Web site features many ways to get involved including:

  • Becoming a foster or adoptive family, especially families for teens, siblings and medically-fragile youth.
  • Supporting adolescents transitioning from care by donating to the NJ Foster Scholars Program to fund their college education and career development and volunteering with the Transitions for Youth Program.
  • Helping one of New Jersey's 37 local Family Success Centers, which support families in need of services and support.
  • Becoming a mentor and volunteer for local community Boys and Girls Clubs.
  • Donating to benefit and support recently reunified families around the holidays.
  • Supporting New Jersey's Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
  • Raising community awareness of support for youth in need including the 24-hour 2NDFLOOR youth helpline.
  • Spreading the word about New Jersey's child safety campaigns to prevent injury or harm to children and infants.

"People want to make a difference in the lives of these children, but it can be daunting to know where to start. RaiseMeUp.org is the place to start in New Jersey," Commissioner Ricketts said.

Casey Family Programs chose New Jersey for the campaign launch because of the work already underway at DCF to improve New Jersey's foster care system. New Jersey is a leader in improving protection for vulnerable children and strengthening families, preventing the need for children to enter the foster care system and finding permanent homes for children languishing in foster care. Highlights of DCF's work include:

  • A record number of adoptions - over 4,200 former foster children adopted between 2006 and 2008.
  • Recruiting and licensing over 5,200 new foster and adoptive families.
  • Reducing the number of children in out-of-home placements by 25 percent (from June 2006 to June 2009).
  • Created a statewide network of Family Success Centers and a new home-visitation program for new mothers.

"We want to build on the success we already are seeing here in New Jersey," DeSantis said. "We know how much the people of New Jersey love their children. Raise Me Up helps them put that love into action."


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SOURCE Casey Family Programs
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