(TRENTON) – With the goal to ensure vulnerable children have access to support services amid COVID-19, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris) sponsored a line item resolution in the Fiscal Year 2021 State Budget to restore $15 million in funding for the School Based Youth Services Program administered by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
The funding will support over 100 programs for children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs, as well as those with developmental disabilities or battling substance abuse. The initiatives also address issues such as suicide prevention, dating violence, bereavement and bullying, and services include counseling and peer supports.
Services are either in person or via telecommunication, according to school reopening plans.
Assemblywoman Jasey released the following statement:
“COVID-19 has significantly impacted the aspects of life that define childhood and adolescence; going to school, socializing with friends, planning for the future. There is no doubt this pandemic will leave a lasting mark on this generation in ways we cannot yet imagine.
“In this time of social isolation and uncertainty, we must prioritize our children’s mental health and well-being. That’s where school based youth services are invaluable. These programs provide vital support for our most vulnerable students. From counseling, to homework help, to offering a sense of belonging, these programs combat the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Any outlet that fosters connection, structure and support to our youth – particularly those struggling with anxiety, depression or substance abuse – is needed now more than ever. Our children must always come first.”