NJ4S Will Make Mental Wellness and Prevention Services Available in Schools and Community Settings
After several weeks of public and stakeholder input, and in response to the youth mental health crisis nationally and in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJ DCF) yesterday announced the roll-out of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance the launch of the NJ Statewide Student Support Services (NJ4S) network of integrated prevention and intervention programming for New Jersey’s 1.4 million students and their families.
In order to minimize disruption to students already receiving services, the Administration will also maintain the current SBYS funding in Governor Murphy’s FY2024 State Budget proposal.
“We’re excited about the healing potential of NJ4S, offering statewide access to mental and emotional wellness services to all students,” said NJ DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “The launch of the RFP is the next step in an ambitious but achievable timeline to stand up regional administrative ‘hubs’ and local service ‘spokes’ for the 2023 – 2024 school year.”
Earlier this fall, NJ DCF unveiled the NJ4S Concept – a first-in-the-nation, statewide student mental wellness support infrastructure to address a surging youth mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the proposed plan, tiered, evidence-based prevention and intervention services to help address and prevent issues such as suicide, teen pregnancy, substance use, and bullying will be administered and organized through 15 regional hubs statewide. Services will be delivered locally to students in schools and through locally based sites, such as libraries, community centers, and more.
Advisory Boards, comprised of students, parents, school officials, community and civic leaders, and others, will play a role in helping to guide hubs and ensuring they meet the unique needs of the community without replicating or duplicating existing supports.
NJ4S was designed as an evolution of the existing 86 School-Based Youth Services (SBYS) programs, funded in whole or in part by DCF, to offer statewide delivery of wellness and prevention services.
More information about the NJ4S Concept and the background and materials supporting the concept's development can be found at https://www.nj.gov/dcf/nj4sconcept.html.
To create consistency and ensure complete data collection among all providers, current SBYS programs will receive new contracts for July 1 with standardized reporting requirements, monitoring requirements, and program expectations.
“The NJ4S Network is intended to meet an unfulfilled need in youth mental health and wellbeing, offering a comprehensive and coordinated array of services – and connections to services – to every student and their family in New Jersey,” said Sanford Starr, NJ DCF Assistant Commissioner of Family and Community Partnerships, which oversees the SBYS programming and will oversee the NJ4S network.
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