Leading Bergen County Social Service Providers Form NJ4S Bergen Coalition to Deliver Mental Health Services to PreK-12 Students and Families Through Statewide NJ4S Network

Coalition brings together Children’s Aid and Family Services, CarePlus NJ, CBH Care, Vantage Health System, and West Bergen Mental Healthcare

Paramus, N.J. (July 6, 2023) – Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJ DCF) to establish a comprehensive network of much-needed prevention and clinical services to students and their families in support of the New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services (NJ4S) initiative. 

NJ4S Bergen is funded by a grant from NJ DCF in the amount of $4.6 million for the first year and $3.6 million for the subsequent year, with a mission of making prevention and clinical services easily accessible to over 133,000 students in all 79 of Bergen County’s school districts. Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) will oversee the prevention aspects of the program, while CarePlus NJ will oversee clinical services. NJ4S Bergen brings together all of Bergen County’s community mental health providers including, CBH Care, Vantage Health System, and West Bergen Mental Healthcare. 

NJ4S Bergen will establish a “hub & spoke” infrastructure through which it will expand access to services and supports throughout Bergen County to help address the youth mental health crisis that has been recognized as a public health emergency by officials across the country. Establishing a system that supports equitable access to services for youth and families is at the core of this initiative.

“A youth mental health crisis of the magnitude we’re currently experiencing requires a comprehensive range of support services coupled with a robust delivery model to ensure we reach all students, especially those with the greatest need, which is why we formed NJ4S Bergen,” said Shavonda E. Sumter, President & CEO, Children’s Aid and Family Services. “By coming together with other leading social service providers in the county, we’re able to ensure we meet the specific and unique growing mental health needs of our highly-diverse and dynamic Bergen County community.”

The NJ4S Bergen is staffed by professionals yet it is led by an Advisory Board made up of students, parents, community leaders, educators, faith-based leaders and others that will ensure that the initiative is designed based on an in-depth understanding of the many communities NJ4S Bergen serves. The Advisory Board will identify preventative services that will be universally available through every school in Bergen County, as well as libraries, places of worship and other community spaces where people are most comfortable. NJ4S Bergen will also prioritize delivery of more focused, evidence-based preventative programs, small group interventions and individualized assessments and interventions for youth in crisis where the need is greatest. 

“As the clinical services lead of NJ4S Bergen, we are looking forward to collaborating with our partners to leverage our extensive reach and experience supporting the mental health needs of children and families to build upon the existing framework of school-based supports to address this crisis and ensure every youth in Bergen County has access to compassionate, culturally-competent care within their communities,” added Brigitte Johnson, Esq., President / CEO, CarePlus NJ.

NJ4S Bergen is currently working to form its Advisory Board. For Bergen County students, parents, community leaders, educators, faith-based leaders or residents interested in getting involved, please contact Le’Var Starr, Director NJ4S Bergen Hub, at BC4S@cafsnj.org.

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