Our Story

Margaret Mead said it best when she said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

In this spirit, fifteen people came together in the Fall of 2011 to help change the world for Somerset County’s abused and neglected children.  Inspired by the invitation of retiring Superior Court Judge Thomas Dilts to join with him in an effort to help meet the unmet needs of abused and neglected children, this group, now known as the Children’s Hope Initiative, is working under the auspices of the Friends of Somerset County Youth, Inc., a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that has been a vehicle for helping meet the unmet needs of all of Somerset’s youth for more than a generation.

The first order of business was to agree upon our mission and who it is that we seek to serve.  Our mission is: to meet the unmet needs of abused or neglected children and their families by providing resources for existing organizations in Somerset County. The children we seek to serve are those who have suffered trauma: through physical, sexual, emotional abuse or parental neglect; through exposure to domestic violence that has led to significant emotional harm; or who exhibit acting out behaviors consistent with abuse even if abuse has not been confirmed.

What we have done and are doing
Since our formation in 2011, we have:
– Provided creative art therapies for 106 children through funding Creative Heartwork
– Supported the establishment of Positive Parenting program in Somerset County to help parents find ways to overcome impediments to good parenting
– Helped establish the “Children’s Hope After School Program in memory of Paige Whitney Imperatore” at the Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center serving children by providing 12 hours of intensive outpatient services each week. Program offers adjunctive therapy (art, music, dance, drama). Expanded in 2017 to include 6 weeks of summer experience including equine therapy, karate, and yoga.
– Worked with Middle Earth to support new and expanded mentoring opportunities. (Middle Earth: http://www.middleearthnj.org/)
– Worked with Family and Community Services of Somerset County (Family and Community Services of Somerset County:  http://fcssomerset.org/) to cut waiting time for children needing mental healthy counseling and medicines
– Implemented tutoring programs through CASA-SHAW to help more than 20 abused and neglected children who are in out-of-home placements and have fallen behind educationally.
– Placing Community volunteers with youth serving organizations.


2018 New Initiatives
-Summer Fun Trips for up to 50 abused/traumatized children each trip referred by DCP&P, Tri-County CMA, RHCMHC, to Great Adventure, Dorney Park, Red Bulls and Shaffer Farms ($5,000)
-“Visions Plus”. Middle Earth provides mentoring, educational and support services for up to 5 young persons who are “aging out” of the child welfare system. ($9,000)
-Family and Community Services provides group counseling needed for middle school aged, Hispanic/Latino students who recently entered the United States from countries that include but are not limited to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Peru, Guatemala, and Ecuador. Many of these students have trauma and academic, behavioral, emotional adjustment difficulties due to their experiences in their home countries. ($6,500)


What we want to do
– Ensure our current initiatives are funded going forward ($100,000 year)
– Find new ways to move into prevention services, especially to help promote “good parenting” to young parents and teens



Leave a Reply

Child Abuse Statistics

Children who experience abuse and neglect are 11 times more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 2.7 times more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 3.1 times more likely to commit a violent crime. (1)

About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. (1)

Five children die every day as a result of child abuse in America. (2)

A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. (3)

245 Somerset County children were in out-of-home placements and not in their own homes during the last court year because of abuse or neglect. (4)


(1) http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long term consequences.cfm

(2) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11599.pdf (at page 1)

(3) www.childhelp.org

(4) New Jersey Judiciary Court Management Report Year End June 30, 2012

US Government Statistics on Child Abuse & Neglect
Using information collected through various monitoring and reporting systems, the Children's Bureau analyzes and reports data on a variety of topics, including adoption, foster care, child abuse, and neglect.

New Jersey Child Abuse & Neglect Statistics
Here you will find helpful information about the types of children involved with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, DCP&P (formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services), including kids who are served in the homes of their birth parents and those who had to be removed into an out-of-home placement. You will also find up-to-date information about efforts to recruit new foster and adoptive families.
http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/ (look at “Data” tab)