The task force’s mission is to develop recommendations to improve the quality and scope of child protective and preventative services provided or supported by the state government.
“I am honored to have been chosen to serve New Jersey’s most vulnerable children in this capacity,” says Monagas. “I am excited to be part of this community of professionals working towards creating positive change and ensuring better outcomes for children involved with the child welfare system.”
Among the task force’s duties will be to review the practices and policies used by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency and the Division of Family and Community Partnerships within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
The goals include developing a statewide plan to prevent child abuse and neglect and mechanisms to facilitate prevention strategies; better educating the public on issues of child abuse and neglect; and optimizing the coordination of services and investigations to help ensure timely determination of alleged abuse.
“Many people do not know what child abuse and neglect look like, because most of the time it is not obvious,” says Monagas. “We need to better educate citizens of the warning signs, and, more importantly, what they should do and where they should go when they see them.”
A member of the Montclair State faculty since 2009, Monagas is a clinical specialist in the McCormick Center for Child Advocacy and Policy where, in addition to teaching, she supervises the practicum experience for undergraduate child advocacy and policy majors. Monagas is also the executive director of the New Jersey Children’s Alliance, a statewide nonprofit that promotes hope, healing and justice for victims of child abuse by supporting Child Advocacy Centers with training, resources, advocacy and leadership.
“The Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy is so proud to have Dr. Monagas join the NJ Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect,” says Emily Douglas, chairperson of the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy at Montclair State. “It is well-deserved. Dr. Monagas is highly knowledgeable and connected in the field of child abuse and neglect and she will bring a high level of expertise and skill to her role with the Task Force. She is an excellent role model for our students, showing that the work to protect children and to create resilient families requires engagement with all levels of community and government. Without a doubt, she will do important work and the children of New Jersey will be safer for her engagement.”
To learn more about Montclair State University’s programs in social work and child advocacy, visit montclair.edu/social-work-and-child-advocacy.