Mental health care cuts loom for thousands of Brick students

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Brick High school’s School Based Youth Sevices Program Director David Seegert. PHOTO BY DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS

BRICK TOWNSHIP — Thousands of students are at risk of losing free and immediate access to mental health care and other services next month, when Gov. Phil Murphy’s revised 2021 budget eliminates $11 million in funding for the School-Based Youth Services Program [SBYS], a statewide program with three offices in the Brick Township Public School District.

Among the many New Jerseyans calling for reinstatement of the funding are David Seegert, the director of School-Based programs in the Brick and Lakewood school districts, and Nick Spanola, a former School-Based counselor at Brick Memorial High School.

Mr. Spanola, who began a Change.org petition to save SBYS that garnered over 32,000 signatures as of Wednesday night, has already been affected by the proposed budget cuts: The 2012 Brick Memorial graduate was laid off Tuesday, Sept. 1.

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Both men dispute a state agency’s defense of the cut as a modernization of the mental health services available to children and their families.

The Governor’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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