Division of Youth / Mentally disturbed children
Many of the emotionally and behaviorally disturbed young people that DYFS (New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services) places in the out-of-home foster program are with foster caregivers who live in apartments.
For the past six years my wife and I have been extremely unfortunate to be neighbors to some of these children and their foster caregivers. Apartment living is the worst possible setting for many of these children, since all the noise and people normally associated with apartment living creates a highly toxic environment. To make matters worse, the foster caregivers I have been exposed to look as if they can scarcely take care of themselves, let alone a mentally disturbed person.
These young people are agitated by the sounds of footsteps, voices, doors closing, phones ringing, vacuum cleaners, running water, hair dryers, fans, children playing, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, workmen in adjacent apartments - you get the picture. No matter where the noise originates they will incessantly follow their neighbor, above or below them, from room-to-room banging and stomping 24/7; the caregivers allow this harassment and abuse, and sometimes join in. If the neighbor complains to apartment management, their charges will more than likely be ignored or downplayed. On the other hand, if the caregiver or caseworker decide you are upsetting these mentally dysfunctional people (just about anything you do will), everyone will gang up on the neighbor; including other foster caregivers in the complex.
My difficulties with caregivers have convinced me they are not being held accountable for their actions; as a matter of fact, I believe they have been allowed to use the position of caregiver to their advantage. They seem to do pretty much what they want, regardless of the apartment rules, and get away with it. They also work hard at trying to control their neighbors behavior and movements, rather than properly supervising those in their care. The foster caregivers I have been exposed to convince me there are too many in the program who are unfit to be caregivers. They seem to lack basic life skills, which makes me wonder how they can possibly nurture, guide, and support children with maladaptive behavior.
The out-of-home placement programs in apartment complexes are cloaked in secrecy. As a tenant, you have no idea who or what you are up against. I have personally been abused by four different groups of foster caregivers and their wards, over a six year period, in two different complexes; until recently, I had no idea they were licensed by DYFS (three weeks ago my daughter found a contact inside the Division). The arrogant, bullying, and intimidating behavior of the caregivers also makes me wonder if they are not being shielded by DYFS.
I feel the out-of-home placement program in New Jersey apartments needs to be transparent. Tenants should know who the foster caregivers are in their complex and be interviewed quarterly, or semi-annually, regarding their conduct. Tenants should also have available a statewide ombudsman. Apartment life is tough enough without having to also sustain harassment and abuse by mentally disturbed children 24/7.
In my particular case, I want the abuse to end immediately! DYFS caseworkers and apartment managers have lied to me since 2004, and I have had enough (example: in 2004 I notified DYFS and management about a young boy who had been living alone in a vacant apartment below for several months. Both the caseworker and manager tried bullying me into accepting that I was just seeing and hearing things, they even refused to check the apartment. Two days later new tenants moved in with the boy).
Now that I have a contact inside DYFS, I am gathering information that I am planning to disseminate to news reporters if my situation doesn't improve soon. Innocent tenants are being abused throughout the state, and most of them have no idea that it is being done with their hard earned tax money.
D.Y.F.S., I want you to get your mentally disturbed youths and foster caregivers under control. End The Abuse Now!