After much blowback to Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to create a statewide hub for K-12 student mental health services and eliminate funding for school-based services, Gov. Murphy back-tracked and said he’d shelve the new hub.
The original plan was for the Department of Children and Families, in collaboration with the Department of Education, to create the “New Jersey Statewide Student Support Service Network,” or NJ4S, at with a first annual budget of $43 million. Various mental health advocates, parents, and school leaders were unsupportive:
‘I’m concerned about the 2024 to 2025 school year,’ said West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District Superintendent David Aderhold. ‘Once the NJ4S model is in place, will they pull away from school based youth services? The services need to be where the kids are,” he said. “Anything that doesn’t do that would be at the detriment of kids and their families.’
And so yesterday at a meeting of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, the head of the Department of Children and Families, Christine Norbut Beyer, announced the Murphy Administration was dropping the new hub system and would continue to fund the school-based one.
From today’s NJ Spotlight:
Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) asked directly if this would be the last time that the administration attempts to cut such school-based mental health programs.
“Based on your question and with the caveat of we want to continue to look at all of the quality of the services that are provided, yes,” Norbut Beyer said.
“We are looking at how do we continue to build on this continuum of service from prevention through intervention. And looking at and listening really to constituents, listening to the Legislature, listening to children and families, we are really pleased at this point with what the continuum of services will look like and how school-based will be included in that,” she said.
Small and rural school districts will still be eligible for state-run mental health services through a five-year grant. The grant will enable these districts to “hire more school counselors, social workers and psychologists” as long as more than 20% of the student population receives free and reduced-cost lunches.
Hello Ms Waters , I’m afraid this is misleading re: NJ4S. The state IS GOING ahead with it, in parallel to School Based Services. Both are being funded in the Governor’s proposed budget. The Spotlight article was pretty clear about this.