Community Spotlight Archive: New Jersey

New Jersey Statewide Evaluation of NORC Supportive Services Programs

Lead agencies of NORC-SSPs in New Jersey have partnered with the state university to research NORC-SSPs throughout their state. The university-community partnership began in 2009, at which time the School of Social Work at Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey – and the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations co-hosted a statewide symposium titled “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities: Implications for the Future of Aging-in-Place Initiatives in New Jersey.” Dr. Barbara Bedney, Director of Domestic Affairs for the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), served as the keynote speaker.  Dr. Bedney and Robert Goldberg, the coordinator of JFNA’s national and public policy work on NORC-SSPs, answered questions at length.

At the symposium, multiple participants indicated enthusiasm for advancing a statewide evaluation of NORC-SSPs, given that the number of NORC-SSPs in New Jersey is disproportionately greater than the number of NORC-SSPs in other states. After several follow-up meetings among members of the university and agency directors and staff, the professionals decided to move forward with the partnership by having university staff interview lead agency staff throughout the state to learn in-depth about their NORC-SSPs.

Dr. Emily Greenfield, Assistant Professor and Programs on Aging Coordinator for Rutgers School of Social Work, has been conducting interviews with lead agency staff since August of 2010. The interviews address the range of communities in which the projects have been implemented, what resources have been obtained to support the projects, the community partnerships that NORC-SSPs have leveraged and initiated, and what the NORC-SSPs have achieved in terms of services, programs, and outcomes.

Information from the interviews will be used to develop:

  • A brief report that provides a statewide overview of how NORC-SSPs have been developed and implemented in New Jersey.
  • Research publications that aim to contribute to a broad understanding of community aging-in-place initiatives.
  • Grant proposals for further research and evaluation of NORC-SSPs.

Each of the 10 agencies that have agreed to participate in the project has contributed toward covering the costs of the researcher’s travel to the interviews and time to write the brief report. The agencies also have contributed two hours of staff time each to complete the interviews. The university has contributed the researcher’s time and expertise to prepare, conduct, and analyze the interviews.