New library outreach program promotes literacy to foster children

Homebound & Volunteer Services of the Ocean County Library has launched Sparks’ B.F.F. Reading Club, a new County-wide outreach program.


B.F.F. stands for Best Friends Forever.  This program will encourage children and teens to visit the library and take advantage of the many services and materials Ocean County Library has to offer.  Sparks, the Library mascot, plans to visit the reading club participants at future State-sponsored Ocean County foster family events.


The program supports a partnership with two Ocean County regional offices of State of New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).  Spark’s B.F.F. Reading Club provides children and teens placed in foster care the opportunity to select several new books, stationery supplies, and a backpack from a collection housed at each of the two County offices. Generous financial backing for this program is being provided by the Friends of the Toms River Library.


DYFS’ mission is to ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of children and to support New Jersey’s families.


“Because the Library is continually looking for ways to reach out to our community we are excited to venture into this new partnership with our local DYFS resource offices. The Sparks’ B.F.F. Reading Club objectives include promoting Ocean County children and teen literacy while enhancing their self-esteem. This program continues the library’s mission of ‘Connecting People…Building Community.’ If we can help children and teens enjoy reading by providing them with a few good books to keep permanently then this program is a success,” said Elaine McConnell, Ocean County Library director. 


Through the efforts and support of Toms River staff, the Homebound and Volunteer Services Department, and library volunteers, hundred of children’s and teens’ new or like-new books have recently been delivered to each of the two County sites.  The S.A.I.L. (Service and Achievement in the Library) teens helped sort, label and prepare the books for distribution. Adult volunteers oversee the age-appropriateness of each book, ensure the books are in excellent condition and assist in the delivery and continued supply of books to the two Ocean County facilities. Various OCL departments such as Public Relations (backpacks), and Youth Services (donated books), and Young Adults Department (donated books) have also offered support.  Initially, more than 350 books have been provided to the two local DYFS resource offices for children to select several to keep permanently. 


“We would like to thank the Friends of the Toms River Library and all the volunteers for partnering DYFS on this project.  The children and teens in foster care who will participate in the reading club will certainly benefit from its mission,” stated DYFS Director Christine L. Mozes, LSW.

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