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CIS Funds Rutgers’ School of Social Work Initiative to Help Families in Low-Income Housing

CIS Responds to COVID-19 Once Again

Community Investment Strategies implemented a plan with Rutgers’ School of Social Work to provide resources and opportunities for families. CIS owns more than 3,000 affordable rental units, consisting of about 2,000 senior citizens and 4,000 children.

Christiana Foglio, Founder and CEO of CIS shared that “some of our families were facing extreme difficulties, from food insecurity to an inability of parents to manage their children’s virtual education. Others had limited capacity for quarantining if anyone in the family had been exposed to COVID.” Furthermore, potential for domestic abuse and depression was on the rise in households worldwide due to mandatory quarantine restrictions (The New York Times 2020).

To address these issues, a plan was put in place for several Rutgers master’s degree students to participate in yearlong field placements at low and middle-income rental properties around the state, including some owned by CIS.

Field placements, similar to residencies in medical fields, are a signature part of social work pedagogy. “Our master of social work program offers advanced certificates in aging and health and promotes child and adolescent well-being, and these students are a natural fit with low-income housing settings,” said Rutgers’ dean, Catheryn C. Potter.

Field placements require all students to provide more than 1,000 hours of service to local communities and are typically unpaid. Understanding this hardship, CIS will provide stipends and supervision for those students placed in affordable housing communities. This contribution will support 10 students in the program for two years, beginning this fall. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring social work skills to an important business setting,” said Potter.

Students in these field placements will provide an array of services for individuals and families in the communities battling with the effects of COVID-19. This will include assurance that families have enough to eat every day, locating resources for the supervision of children with full-time working parents, ensuring that students from grades K-12 have internet access for remote learning; and provide support for seniors while informing them of safety protocols put in place to help protect them.

CIS hopes their gift will have an impact on both the residents of affordable communities and the students who take part in the field placements throughout New Jersey. “We think it will offer really good, up-close experiences for the graduate students and provide extraordinary resources that seniors and families under normal conditions would not get,” said Foglio, adding, “I’m a Jersey girl, a Rutgers grad, and it just feels like a perfect fit.”

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