Teen SENSE and New Jersey Alliance for Children, Youth, & Families (NJACYF) co-hosted the Teen SENSE Sexual Health Advocacy 2014 New Jersey Convening in July 2014, at NJACYF in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. The Convening presented an opportunity for stakeholders to collaboratively develop recommendations to New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) regarding sexual and reproductive health services and programming for youth in care.
Over 30 organizations from across New Jersey attended, including organizations serving youth in foster care, LGBTQ youth, youth of color, and youth with special needs. Kelli Puryear, Assistant Director of DCF’s Office of Adolescent Services, participated by brainstorming with youth advocates about ways to address the needs of youth involved with DCF’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP).
Other participants included sexual health educators, behavioral health providers, nurses, caseworkers, and staff from residential treatment facilities, as well as Rutgers – New Jersey Medical School’s Dr. Paulette Stanford, Associate Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, and Dr. Dominga Padilla, Associate Director of the Cultural Competency Program.
The enthusiasm and commitment of our New Jersey partners, not to mention of high-level staff at DCF, is the true driving force of our efforts in New Jersey. The Convening not only produced detailed discussions of the sexual health care needs of youth involved with DCF, but also ways coalition members can enrich our policy advocacy efforts.
Our next convening is scheduled for September 2014 at NJACYF. At this upcoming convening, participants will continue discussions on specific provisions of our recommendations.
CHLP is excited about the strong momentum behind Teen SENSE’s efforts in New Jersey. As one of the young people involved with Teen SENSE’s Youth Advocacy Corps in East Orange, New Jersey, said, “I know they’ll listen to us if we keep at it.”
For more information or to join Teen SENSE or the Youth Advocacy Corps in New Jersey, contact Adrian Guzman at 212-430-6733 or firstname.lastname@example.org.