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Families from Essex and Passaic Counties Celebrate at The Seventh Day Adventist Church of the Oranges

For Immediate Release                            Contact:  Ernest Landante, Jr.                                                 Friday, December 20, 2013                      609-292-0422

Trenton, NJ - New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) Assistant Commissioner Beth Bowman continued Governor Christie's "Season of Service" initiative, joining children and their parents at FAMILYConnections' Reunity House in Essex County for a "Home for the Holidays" family reunification celebration.

"'Home for the Holidays" brings together families that have recently reunited with their children that have been in foster care. Families and children from Essex and Passaic counties received donated gifts, enjoyed meals and participated in a variety of holiday activities.

"Home for the Holidays' events celebrate the important role of families in the lives of children," said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake. "When families come together and reunite, especially during the holiday season, it's a special gift and is at the core of our department's mission."

FAMILYConnections is a non-profit community-based agency with more than 30 specialized programs for all ages from infants to seniors.  Their mission is to engender hope, enhance safety, heal trauma, and strengthen families and communities through innovative counseling, skills-building, training and prevention.

"In this year alone, thanks to our strong partnership with the Department of Children and Families, Reunity House has safely reunified 25 families," said FAMILYConnections Executive Director Paula Sabreen.  "That means 52 children are out of foster care and safely back where they belong.  There's no greater gift than that."

DCF's primary goal is to serve and keep children in their own homes whenever possible.  If foster care is necessary, the goal for those children is reunification with their birth families.  DCF does this by helping families identify their strengths and needs, and providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

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