Call to Action: Save School Based Youth Services Program from Defunding
Miracles Do Happen
We are pleased to report that in early October, Governor Phil Murphy devised a last minute budget adjustment with the support of several legislative leaders that approved the restoration of the School Based Youth Service Program!
This decision results in the restoration of Mercer Council’s ASYSST Program and nearly 100 other school based youth service programs, effective Oct. 1.
The restoration of the school-based program was widely backed by both Democrats and Republican leaders. From the initial youth driven rally held at the New Jersey State capital, to a virtual rally with nearly 600 participants; from countless articles, letters and blogs; to radio interviews, mini rallies and appeals sent by students, families, educators and supporters; the message became resoundingly clear,… New Jersey’s School Based Youth Service Programs are relevant and are especially vital in providing mental health services to the youth of our state.
While the governor's budget proposal sought to cut the program, the state Department of Children and Families, which helps to administer it, had recognized that the state is in "tough budget times" and that students could still benefit from a variety of mental health services.
As the program director of ASYSST, I would like to thank the many individuals who read our blog, offered services and support, and contacted your local representatives to help us bring awareness to the need to advocate for restoration. In addition to the support of Mercer Council administrative and staff, the ASYSST program needs to also thank the Ewing School district and the Ewing Municipal Administration for their support.
I would also especially like to thank our dedicated staff, who waited patiently through this time of uncertainty and rallied behind their belief and support of the services to our youth. Now that services are restored, we look forward to ongoing opportunities to impact the students and families of Ewing High School.
Yes, Miracles do happen!
Gregory S. Smith, LCSW