Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, which would create a new Ombudsman position within the Department of Education and a task force charged with creating a statewide strategic plan of action to reengage disconnected youth (ages 16 to 24), was passed by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“New Jersey saw more than 100,000 disconnected youth from school or employment in 2021. This growing and disturbing trend was exacerbated by the pandemic and today stands to leave an enduring negative economic and social impact on the state,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Now more than ever, through the creation of an Ombudsman and task force solely focused on developing an effective strategy addressing the underlying factors to disengagement, we take a significant step forward to ensuring our youth have a fair shot at a great future.”
The bill, S-3080, would create an executive level position within the Department of Education who is charged with collaborating with all school districts and other state agencies including higher education, labor and workforce development, human services, children and families, corrections, and the Juvenile Justice Commission. Along with the 25-member task force, the Ombudsman would help create and implement a comprehensive statewide strategy on how to re-engage youth to educational and postsecondary opportunities. The Task Force would be required to issue its recommendations for action to the Commissioner of Education, Secretary of Higher Education, Governor, and the Legislature no later than nine months following its organization.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 10-0.