Why Cutting In-School Mental Health Programs Is A Bad Idea

Amidst all that’s going on in our world, this is a story that many may have missed – but it’s important & there are a lot of nuances to it. 
Simplifying here – the state isn’t going away from MH services for students, but it IS shifting funds AWAY from in-school resources, to more out-of-school programs.  Opinion here – but this seems to be a decision that could hurt the best forms of access to care.
If you can get kids to share IN school, think of all the benefits: no need for transportation nor additional costs to parents who can’t afford them, a comfort level IN your place of learning, a relationship AT the place you spend the most time, & perhaps most importantly, a changing of culture at school – “home base,” where we must see change take place, & the idea of opening up normalized.
The specifics: The School Based Youth Services Program, which has been operating as a grant-funded program in schools across the state since 1987, is set to be eliminated in New Jersey’s nine-month fiscal year 2021 budget.  Up to the point of this decision, the program had operated in 90 schools providing services to between 25,000 & 30,000 students through prevention education as well as mental health supports.
Look, every state has the right to allocate funds as they see fit.  It’s hard for someone from the outside to say that providers from one group/program are better than others.  That said, amidst a pandemic, where social & emotional health has been impacted across the board w students, & a return to school is anything but “normal,” I’m not so sure that shifting funds AWAY from in-school programs was/is the way to go.
Kids need to feel safe. They need to feel safe where they spend the most time, do the most work, learn, interact, & grow. On the contrary, we have had 6 schools in LI contract us to do MORE #SameHere Schools work this coming school year, IN the schools themselves.
Not so in favor of this move from NJ & it’s a trend we should look out more for & work instead to push states to provide funding for IN-school programming.

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