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Senator Declan O’Scanlon urged Governor Phil Murphy to drop his plan to replace the popular School Based Youth Services Program.
“We fought to save this important program two years ago when the Murphy administration first threatened it, and we’ll fight again today because we know it works,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “The infrastructure for this program is in place and it’s working well and efficiently. We cannot say the same about most things government does. If the administration wants to remake these local programs, let’s see a comprehensive plan that incorporates what already works and builds upon it. Let’s not do the typical ‘ready, fire, aim’ strategy that we’ve seen too often.”
The School-Based Youth Services Program has operated in 90 school districts across New Jersey since 1988, providing children with access to a variety of important services before, during, and after school, including: mental health counseling; employment counseling; substance abuse education/prevention; preventive health awareness including pregnancy prevention; primary medical linkages; learning support; healthy youth development; recreation; and information/referral.
The Murphy administration announced its intention to phase out the existing program and with the Governor’s handcrafted “New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services” (NJ4S) network, which would centralize services and move them out of local schools.
“Tens of thousands of kids, including my own daughter, have utilized and benefitted from the important resources provided by the School-Based Youth Services Program in their schools,” said O’Scanlon. “The fact that it’s easily accessible in our schools is exactly why it works. Governor Murphy’s decision would make these services less accessible, delay help, and risk forcing kids into more costly therapies and interventions. Even worse, it could result in children not getting the help they need at all. I urge the Governor to not reinvent the wheel and to protect the existing program that works.”
According to the Murphy administration, the Department of Children and Families convened a workgroup of school leaders, parents, youth, stakeholders, and others to examine replacing school-linked services as the governor proposed.
“It’s extremely concerning that the administration claims there was an extensive workgroup to review changes to these programs and services, yet nobody seemed to know that any of this was happening when Governor Murphy’s announcement of NJ4S was made,” added O’Scanlon. “I’d love to know who was on this workgroup, how they were selected, when they met, and what they reviewed. Sadly, this is yet another example of the lack of transparency and communication with the public and legislators that’s been a hallmark of this administration.”