Sussex County Freeholders Outraged at Murphy Administration Cut of School Based Youth Services Funding

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(Newton, NJ) The members of Sussex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders fought back for families of approximately 800 county students impacted by Governor Phil Murphy’s funding cut, which will entirely wipe out the School Based Youth Services Program, addressing the Governor about the cut in a letter on Tuesday.

The Freeholders called the move “ill-considered,” stating students and their families rely heavily on the services that the program delivers to the school communities throughout Sussex County.

Among the program accolades before, during and after school hours are on-site psychiatric evaluations, mental health counseling and medication monitoring provided for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, who may be battling mental health diseases and substance abuse. The program also provides student-led clubs and peer mentoring, to help provide the framework for positive peer relationships unity and a sense of identity for students.

A rural county like Sussex, the Freeholders wrote, is often passed over for funding opportunities to help construct the framework for a program like the School Based Youth Services Program.

“It is disheartening that students will no longer have this program to assist with supporting the students’ mental, behavioral, emotional and physical health, so as to be academically successful, achieve job-readiness skills, and obtain the social skills needed to transition into adulthood and to become successful and contributing members of our community,” the Freeholders stated in their letter.

Sussex County Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo, who referred to the program as a “lifeline” for students that participate in it, said, “A good education is crucial for any person who wishes to be a contributing member of society and find success in life. Youth who experience mental health disease in Sussex County, where there are almost no services available to them, have a tremendous educational disadvantage that adversely affects their future.”

On behalf of the entire Freeholder Board, who urged Murphy to continue funding the program, Petillo added, “Without these programs, our youth would be at a severe disadvantage and unable to reach their educational goals. That is why it is extremely disconcerting that Governor Murphy would even consider cutting this vital program in the counties throughout New Jersey. If Governor Murphy succeeds, he will have stolen the future of these students and destined them to a life of poverty.”


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