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More Than $5.4 Million In Federal Funds Will Help Children Overcome Emotional Struggles Brought on by the Storm

For Immediate Release:                         Contact: Ernest Landante

December 5, 2013                                 609-292-0422

Trenton, NJ -- The Christie Administration today announced the state will use $5,424,000 in federal funds for school and community-based psychosocial intervention programs to help children cope with social, psychological and family stress associated with Sandy.

"The storm's psychological impact on children can negatively influence behavior and increase emotional stress, potentially affecting the rest of their lives," said Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Allison Blake. "By intervening to help and support these children that are struggling, we aim to keep families strong and provide the programs and tools necessary to help their children return to a life of normalcy."

Based on a risk and needs assessment conducted by DCF, state officials anticipate increases in mental health issues, domestic violence, child abuse, and an erosion of family life due to stress associated with recovery in Sandy affected areas. Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care will provide intervention services in the five northernmost counties -- Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and Union -- impacted by the storm. Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth and Ocean counties will receive services from Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.

"Our Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program's crisis counselors, along with community and school-based counselors, will be trained in evidence-based and best-practice programs," said Chris Kosseff, president and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. "They will implement these programs in schools and communities to decrease depression and anxiety, increase resiliency and empowerment, connect youth with trusted adults, and identify and refer at-risk youth and adults in need of more intensive mental health services."

It is estimated that about one-third of New Jersey's primary and secondary school-aged children resided in the Sandy-impacted counties at the time of the storm.

"In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Barnabas Health made a commitment to be a significant community resource for those impacted by the devastation," said Barry H. Ostrowsky, president and chief executive officer of Barnabas Health.  "We are proud to receive this substantial funding which will help families and individuals affected and support our mission to keep New Jersey healthy - both physically and emotionally."

To ensure that children have access to the help they need, services will be available to children year round, including during summer, winter and spring school recess periods.

Families with children that need assistance should call Diana Walker at DCF's Family and Community Partnerships at 609-888-7409.

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