Two years after avoiding budget cuts that threatened its existence, the school-based youth services program at Red Bank Regional High known as The Source is again facing “devastating” cuts, Superintendent Lou Moore told the school community Thursday.
“At a time when youth are struggling with mental health issues at alarming rates,” changes to be implemented by Governor Phil Murphy’s administration next summer would “reduce, not enhance, mental health services for our students and families,” Moore said in a press release.
Supporters and former students at the Little Silver school have said the mental health counseling provided through the program had literally saved lives, while helping numerous other students overcome obstacles to completing their education.
Here’s the full statement:
Effective June 30, 2023 the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will eliminate all funding for the SOURCE, the School Based Youth Services Program at Red Bank Regional High School. Funds will be redistributed into what DCF and the Murphy Administration unveiled as a new “First-in-the-Nation Statewide Student Mental Wellness Support Infrastructure Proposal” known as “NJ4S” that will support all NJ students and families.
At a time when youth are struggling with mental health issues at alarming rates, removing The SOURCE will have devastating consequences to all of the students who attend Red Bank Regional High School and the greater school community. SOURCE services include free mental health counseling, crisis intervention, overall physical and social emotional wellness supports, as well as parent/community education.
NJ4S takes a “Hub and Spoke” approach to mental health services. Hubs would be located in the 15 court districts called vicinages. RBRHS’s hub would be in vicinage nine, located in Freehold. This would reduce, not enhance, mental health services for our students and families.
Since 2000, the SOURCE has created trust and bonds with students and the greater school community. It continues to build public and private partnerships to ensure quality services that are effective, culturally sensitive, and responsive to the diverse, changing needs of students and our communities.
Access and equity to mental health services for all students and families in New Jersey is of paramount importance. The sudden implementation of a one-size-fits all approach to advancing access to mental health services without stakeholder input at the local level is disingenuous. Eliminating the SOURCE with no regard for the impact this will have on students, families and the greater community at Red Bank Regional High School is unacceptable.
For over twenty years, The Source has been funded through a State grant in the estimated amount of $277,000, matched with funding from Red Bank Regional High School and ancillary financial support from The Source Foundation. Without State funding, The SOURCE and all of its free programming and services will simply be eliminated.
In an announcement on the district website Thursday, Moore wrote: “We fought this battle two years ago and won. I am asking for your help once again. On the attached sheet please find information on how to contact government officials and provide your feedback. The deadline for ALL community input is October 14.”
The posting includes samples of letters and emails that supporters might send to lawmakers.
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