The fair’s purpose is to share with families and caretakers the abundant resources available in Camden County, according to April DiPietro, the partnership’s community resource director. The Jewish Abilities Alliance, The Thrive Network, Jag-One Physical Therapy and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families have helped DiPietro and the Camden Care Management Organization (CMO) assemble a resource network for the event.
DiPietro said this year marks not only the first time the fair will happen after a two-year COVID pause, but its first time in the town center space.
“This will be the largest event I’ve organized so far … I have been doing it for eight years and as of today [Aug. 30], I have 354 agencies registered,’’ said DiPietro. “The fair was originally designed for our staff. We had about 90 agencies that were CSOC (Children’s System of Care)-approved to provide in-home services, but our staff didn’t really know all of the agencies we were contracted with.
“It really started so we could put a face [of an agency worker] to a name.”
The agencies and services vary from in-home care to therapy to women’s centers, and adult day care to standard children’s-care facilities, according to DiPietro. The variety of services are simply to ensure that people know how many avenues of care are available in the region.
DiPietro also wants area families and parents to know that not all child services should carry a negative connotation. She said that parents often resist seeking help because they’re worried about damaging their family’s relationship, or worst of all, losing their child.
“A lot of times, there’s a misconception about what the CMO is, and we’re also confused with [other agencies],” DiPietro explained. “The stigma behind that is sometimes people [are afraid] to call the state, because they don’t want anything to happen to their children. We’re here to try and debunk some of those myths.
“The last thing we want to do is take someone’s child.”
“You can be the best parent in the world, but your child may have a mental-health struggle,” DiPietro noted. “We want you to know that that is okay. It does not have to be a problem.”
Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors are asked to arrive prior to the start to ensure proper setup.