Meet DJ DeJong: Director of Recruitment & Intake at CK Family Services

Meet DJ DeJong, an invaluable member of the CK Family Services team with a rich background as both a child welfare professional and a foster father. DJ’s journey into foster parenting began in an unexpected way. Reflecting on his start, he says, “I got into it for all the wrong reasons—very selfish reasons because I was running from God.”

Growing up in a small Iowa town, DJ was unaware of the realities of abuse or foster care. However, at the age of 17, while at youth camp, DJ felt an undeniable call from God to enter the ministry. Unsure of what form this would take, he spent the next few years trying to avoid that calling, but God found a way.

DJ endured a miserable first year of college amid the unpleasant conditions of communal dorm living and took a job the following year at Presbyterian Children’s Home in Waxahachie primarily because it came with an apartment, far away from the other college kids. In his role as an Assistant Family Teacher, DJ mentored eight young people, marking the beginning of his extensive career in child welfare.

Over the years, DJ has held various roles in the field, including Recruiting, Training, Placements, Case Management, and serving as Director of Foster Care and Adoption. As a foster parent for 11 years, DJ opened his home to over 40 placements, sometimes housing eight teenagers at a time. Reflecting on this experience, he shares, “They did more for me than I could have ever done for them. Their stories brought me to my calling. Who’s to say what I would have missed out on if I had not known them?”

DJ’s journey has profoundly shaped his approach to parenting his own two sons, now aged 18 and 20. He believes in the power of modeling good choices for young people, hoping that they will remember his words and actions during times of hardship or indecision. DJ remarks, “You never know what influence you have on young people, just by living your life. When I needed advice growing up, I could only draw on what I had seen or learned from my role models. That’s how I see my role.” Drawing on the advantages of fostering older youth, he recalls, “I knew I wasn’t prepared to be everything that a baby or young child would need, with constant supervision, but interacting with older kids and teens is rewarding in that they are old enough to absorb it and keep it for later use.”

At CK Family Services, DJ has recently taken on a new role as Director of Recruitment and Intake. Perfectly suited for this position, DJ values the intake process and enjoys engaging with families in the community. Don’t be surprised if you see him meeting families, advocating for kids, or leading recruitment events in our service areas. Thanks to the efforts of DJ’s team, CKFS found homes for 60 children in May alone, ensuring they didn’t have to spend another night in a CPS office or in an unsafe home environment.

DJ’s life experiences deeply inform his professional work. “I feel like because I’ve lived it, I can bring that subject to life with people,” he says. Reflecting on his time as a foster parent, DJ states, “I’d do it again too. I would definitely do it again.” His dedication and passion continue to inspire those around him, making a lasting impact on the lives of many.