Signed, Sealed, Delivered: New Jersey Governor signs Youth Disconnection Prevention Bill

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: New Jersey Governor signs Youth Disconnection Prevention Bill

 

Senate Bill 3080, which establishes the Youth Disconnection Prevention and Recovery Ombudsperson (YDPRO) in the Department of Education and the School Disconnection Prevention Task Force, was signed into law this week. The bill passed with overwhelming majorities of bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly. Youth members of the New Jersey Opportunity Youth Coalition have participated in the advocacy work leading up to the signing of S3080.

 

Newark, New Jersey—Senate Bill 3080, which establishes the Youth Disconnection Prevention and Recovery Ombudsperson (YDPRO) in the Department of Education and the School Disconnection Prevention Task Force, reached the Governor’s desk and was signed into law this week. The bill passed with overwhelming majorities of bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly.

 

An ombudsperson will work collaboratively with officials to ensure that school districts across New Jersey are taking all measures necessary to support students while they are in school and reengage young people who have disconnected. Senators Teresa Ruiz and Renee Burgess of Essex County sponsored the bill along with Assembly members Ralph Caputo, Thomas Giblin, and Cleopatra Tucker.

 

Some of the ombudsperson’s responsibilities are to collaborate with school districts to develop a statewide strategic plan to address the challenge of preventing young people aged 16 to 24 from disconnecting from school and the workforce, address the need for re-engagement of disengaged youth and develop the necessary strategies to increase re-engagement.

 

The task force will analyze the root causes of school disconnection and offer recommendations for how to address the issue. It will consist of 23 members and the ombudsperson will serve as the chairperson and director of the task force.

 

“A tremendous amount of work has been done in support of this bill and in ensuring that fewer New Jersey young people are disconnected from school and the workforce,” said Founder and CEO of OYN Robert Clark. “Thank you to the sponsors of the legislation and to everyone who was involved in advocating for its passage. This is a significant milestone toward a day in which our public systems work to set all young people up for long-term success.”

 

With more than 100,000 New Jersey students disconnecting from school in 2021, this bill is a step forward in the prevention of youth disconnection and helps reengage young people statewide. It also acknowledges disconnected youth’s potential contributions to society, both economically and socially, when provided with the tools and support needed to do so—a resource that can have a positive impact on all New Jerseyans.

 

Youth members of the New Jersey Opportunity Youth Coalition have witnessed and participated in the advocacy work leading up to the signing of this bill. The New Jersey Opportunity Youth Coalition is convened by OYN and seeks to advocate to remove the barriers that inhibit opportunity youth’s success throughout the state.

 

Yaneliz Cabrera, one of the youth members of the Coalition, said “I’m grateful to have been a part of the legislative process and witness the lifecycle of a bill, from an idea to enactment. It’s one thing to learn about how a bill becomes law, but it’s another to actively support and advocate for it, especially one that directly affects the people I know and my community.”

 

Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) is a non-profit organization and New Jersey’s leading advocate of opportunity youth  – young people ages 16-24 who are not in school and not working – with a body of initiatives designed to address youth disconnection. OYN achieves this with a multi-pronged approach that includes education, workforce development, policy advocacy, and systems building.

 

Visit https://www.newark-oyn.org/annual-reports to learn more about youth disconnection. A full list of the bill’s sponsors/cosponsors can be found below:

 

Senator Teresa Ruiz

Senator Renee Burgess

Senator Vin Gopal

Senator Patrick Diegnan

Senator Nellie Pou

Senator Shirley Turner

Senator Andrew Zwicker
Senator Raj Mukherji

Senator Angela McKnight
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo

Assemblyman Thomas Giblin

Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey

Assemblyman Erik Simonsen

Assemblyman Antwan McClellan

Assemblyman Reginald Atkins

Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis

Assemblywoman Shama Haider

Assemblyman William Sampson IV

Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson

Assemblyman Brandon Umba

Assemblywoman Ellen Park

Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno

Assemblywoman Kim Eulner

 

About Opportunity Youth Network

Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) is New Jersey’s leading advocate of opportunity youth with a body of replicable initiatives that are designed to address youth disconnection. These initiatives, organized around four key elements of Education, Workforce Development, Policy Advocacy, and Systems Building, work in tandem to accomplish OYN’s mission to re-engage opportunity youth while drastically changing systems that inhibit their success.

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