Local Family Honored for Over a Decade of Fostering Children in Need
Keyport, NJ – Keyport natives, Joan and Tony Agnello were honored with a Proclamation on November 26, 2013 from the Borough for receiving the “Commitment to Childhood Development Award” from the Ocean Mental Health Services organization for their long-time commitment to the Connections Therapeutic Treatment Home program, having opened their home to fifteen children since 2000.
Funded by Ocean Mental Health Services, “Connections” is a therapeutic treatment home program for children between the ages of 7-17. Children who are placed in Connections treatment homes can reside there anywhere between 30 days to sometimes over one year, depending on their circumstances. A therapeutic treatment home family offers these children the guidance and support they need, as well as provide them with a stable environment in which they can work on their treatment, and Connections provides complete support to foster families, including training and a generous stipend to assist with costs, such as food, clothing, housing and recreation.
The Agnellos first became involved with the Connections program in 2000. Joan Agnello was seeking job opportunities and learned about the program through an advertisement. With a background in child care, Joan Agnello felt compelled to learn more about Connections, and after an interview and a discussion about the process and the goals of program, she felt that her family would be a good fit. With the support of her husband and son, the Agnellos opened their home, and since beginning the program have fostered fifteen children, making a difference in the lives of both the children and the families they returned to.
“There are so many children in foster care, and many could have a better life if they were just given the opportunity and put into a setting where they would get one-on-one attention and the therapy that they need,” stated Agnello. “Being a foster family is a very rewarding experience. We get to watch a child grow and succeed, and at the same time, they keep us young. When there’s a lull between children, my husband and I are eager to open our home to another foster child.”
“With the Connections program, the goal is ultimately reunification for the child and their family or with adoptive parents,” explained Martina Lambiase, Connections Program Coordinator. “In many cases, a stable home environment for a few months is all a child needs to help them overcome their emotional or behavioral difficulties, and for so many children, the Agnellos have provided just that. Their commitment to the program
for all these years is precisely why we chose to honor them.”
Connections is a program run under Ocean Mental Health Services, a non-profit organization serving Ocean and Monmouth Counties whose mission is to offer a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health, substance abuse, and integrated healthcare services, which promotes full participation in community life. If you would like more information on OMHS services, or becoming a foster family in the Connections Therapeutic Treatment Home Program, please contact Martina Lambiase at 732-349-3535 ext. 702, or visit the website at www.oceanmhs.org.