You may have never heard of School Based Youth Services but many students across New Jersey have and some of them no doubt had their lives saved by this program. A program that is now being cut and altered.

Patch.com did a story on this and Brick Memorial was one of the schools that had it. It is a grant-funded counseling program that has been in a lot of Jersey schools since 1987. Kids could stop in any time for emotional and mental health support. And it’s being taken away.

The program is scrapped as of October 1 and the $15 million dollar budget is being shifted to another government agency which insists it can provide similar services through out-of-school programs.

Fat chance. The beauty of School Based Youth Services has always been in the name; school-based. When students have a safe haven to go to in a place where they already are, with familiar faces they see every day, it works. They can talk about things they can’t bring up to their parents. Especially when sometimes it’s the parents who are the problem. Tell a kid coming from a bad home life he or she has to find a way to get out of the house to seek help at some out-of-school program and they just might not ever go.

To demonstrate how well the in-school program has worked, last year alone 800 students at Brick used the service. When a counselor there heard the Murphy administration was cutting the program a Change.org petition asking for it to be saved got over 25,000 signatures and is growing. This says a lot.

Cutting a successful program that has worked for 33 years is helping no one. I understand this is a tough budget year and with a $4 billion borrowing gap feels like the fiscal version of Titanic. Don’t fix it by kicking children out of the lifeboats.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.