Bucco Wants to Fix the Daytop Problem

Tom Kean, Jr., Tom Kean, Tony Bucco, and Doug Steinhardt.

MENDHAM – Fighting to keep a well-respected substance abuse center operating is not a hard call.

And it’s one Sen. Anthony M. Bucco is gladly accepting. The senator said Wednesday that he is working to find a solution to the potential closing of Daytop, a treatment center for adolescents that once had a waiting list.

Now, only about 25 of its 70 beds are filled.

“The opioid crisis isn’t getting any better,” Bucco said Wednesday.

Gov. Phil Murphy said in January that there were 3,021, statewide, opioid-related deaths in 2019, down slightly from 2018. But this still comes out to an average of eight opioid-related deaths a day.

The problems at Daytop, which has been in Mendham for almost 30 years, stem from changing state regulations dating back to 2014 and 2016. In short, they limit the number of adolescents – mostly teens – who are sent to residential treatment centers such as Daytop. Instead, some of these individuals are treated at home while others may not even be identified as needing help. Not only is Daytop in trouble, similar treatment centers such as Straight & Narrow and Integrity House, both in Newark, already have closed.

Bucco, whose 25th District includes Daytop, is urging supporters of the center to sign a change.org petition. Many already have done so.

“Daytop represents a level of care provided to substance-addicted adolescents whose importance cannot be overstated,” said one signer. “I am the parent of such a child and without Daytop, my son might be dead.”

There were also right-to-the-point comments like, “There needs to be help for anyone suffering from addiction” and, “Better to help them, than keep jailing them.”

Bucco also said he has persuaded state Sen. Joseph Vitale, the chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Seniors Citizens Committee, to hold a March 16 hearing on the topic, and more specifically, how regulation changes of a few years ago are working out.

Bucco said he hopes supporters of adolescent, residential treatment centers throughout the state will attend the hearing.

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