EAST ORANGE, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. unveiled the new Essex County Youth Day Reporting Center and the Essex County One-Stop Youth Resource Center at 50 South Clinton Street, East Orange, on Tuesday, March 22. This site places all Essex County offices that provide supportive services, educational programming and training opportunities for at-risk youth in one centralized location. It will enable the county to provide services more efficiently, eliminate confusion of clients about where to report and create a seamless continuum of youth-oriented programs.
“We are always evaluating our programs to see how we can more effectively and efficiently serve our clients,” said DiVincenzo. “The Day Reporting Center and Youth Resource Center are two initiatives that enable us to better assess the needs of at-risk youth and provide them with the educational and training foundation to get their lives back on track. Consolidating all our youth-oriented programs in one location also enables us to maximize our resources and provide our young clients with a clear path to a more productive life.”
“At-risk youth are a very vulnerable population who can very easily get lost in the system if they don’t receive the proper attention and guidance,” said Anibal Ramos, Director of Citizen Services and Economic Development, Training and Employment. “These clients are coming to us at a very young age and need a tremendous amount of help in order to be prepared for the workforce. Our best opportunity to make an impact on their lives is to address their needs early.”
“Because our programs addressing youth were spread out between two departments and two locations, placing them in one building allows our professionals to more easily share information and provide a comprehensive plan to help them,” he added.
Other government and law enforcement officials talked about how supportive programs for youth are.
“I want to thank Joe DiVincenzo for bringing together the many partners who have created this tremendously valuable tool,” Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said. “Except when it’s critically necessary, we don’t want young people to be incarcerated where they are exposed to bad people. This is an option for young people to be assigned by the courts to a structured program that provides accountability and security.”
“As a law enforcement agency, the Sheriff’s Office has our initial contact with the young people who can benefit from these programs,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said, alluding to youth who are arrested. “Programs like this provide hope that young people who dropped out, got in trouble or are unemployed and without direction can be nurtured in an environment like this and have a constructive role in society.
“The youth development programs we offer will help you improve throughout your life so that you will never have to be a statistic again,” Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake said, addressing her remarks to the young adults attending the ceremony. “You can do anything you want to if you set your mind to it, and you can use these programs as your launching pad.”
“One of the most impressive things about the Essex County Youth One-Stop Center is our tremendous cooperation with the State,” Samuel Okparaeke, director of the Division of Training and Employment and the Workforce Investment Board. “No other County has a Day Reporting Center, so we are creating a model for others to follow.”
The newest youth-oriented program being offered is the Essex County Juvenile Day Reporting Center. The JDRC is an alternative to incarceration program for juveniles ages 16-18, who are assigned to the program by the New Jersey Family Court System. The juveniles attend the Juvenile Day Reporting Center from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. While there, they are engaged in a structured curriculum that offers mainstream educational and growth opportunities including work experiences, educational and vocational skill attainment, coping skills, family integration, and substance abuse and mental health counseling. Essex County is partnering with Family Connections from Orange to provide a comprehensive evaluation of each client, create an individualized plan and provide ongoing monitoring. The JDRC is funded by the NJ Juvenile Justice Commission through the Essex County Youth Services Commission.
The Essex County One-Stop Youth Resource Center is a component of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and is located on the third floor of 50 South Clinton Street. It serves out-of-school youth ages 17-24 years and helps prepare young clients for the workforce either by assisting with educational enrichment or job readiness skills. It provides basic skills development, case management, career exploration, academic enrichment, employability directed activities, workplace literacy, job placement, vocational training, basic assessment, leadership development skills, HiSET/TASC preparation and testing, and mentorship.
The third part of the One-Stop Youth Resource Center is the Essex County Youth Services Commission. This is responsible for the identification, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of community-based sanctions and services for juveniles. The YSC funds an assortment of programs and services that provides the Family Court with options of where to assign pre- and post-adjudicated youth. These programs include an evening reporting center, electronic GPS monitoring and home detention monitored by committed staff, work readiness and supportive worksite program for youth enrolled in alternative programs and collaborations with other County programs which provide high school equivalency testing and training. These Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives have led the way in reducing overcrowding and overrepresentation of minorities in juvenile detention centers