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Parents of Children with Mental Health Challenges Fight to Keep Funding for Family Support Organizations

By kbm0423 on

State-funded groups such as the New Jersey Alliance of Family Support Organizations are nervously awaiting the upcoming budget announcement by Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday, August 25.

Parents who receive services from the Family Support Organizations (FSOs) throughout the state participated in a video explaining the necessity to keep such services fully operational and funded.

“Honestly, without FSO, I really don’t know where my son would be today - possibly hospitalized or in a juvenile detention center, in trouble with the law - I don’t know,” one mother said.

She said that the FSO helped her to communicate better with her son who suffers from mental health challenges.

“There are ways of speaking to him that I didn’t realize were negative for him. Through (FSO) classes like the Nurtured Heart Approach, I’ve learned more positive ways of speaking to my son,” explained a parent who said the FSO also helped her to switch school districts for her son.

Family Support Organizations serve as system partners within the New Jersey’s Children’s System of Care, which is designed to help children with complex emotional, mental health, or behavioral issues.

There are 15 FSO locations in the state that provide services to all 21 counties. The offices are operated and staffed by adults who have children with emotional, behavioral, developmental, and/or substance use challenges.

“Reducing the Children’s System of Care budget by even a dollar at a time like this during a pandemic would be catastrophic," Dr. De Lacy Davis, executive director, New Jersey Alliance of Family Support Organizations, said. "Families have been isolated for months and we have not begun to see the magnitude of the adverse impact of that isolation on families, our children and our caregivers. They will need our collaborative system more now than ever.”

Governor Murphy is expected to present a spending plan for fiscal year 2021 on Tuesday that reflects cuts to accommodate financial setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Parents say they hope those cuts don’t impact the FSO budget. “I would hate to see this program shut down and not available to other parents like myself,” said one parent.