Tweens and Teens

Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is filled with challenges. Along with the physical changes that are occurring, one is learning how to navigate the world around them and coming to a better understanding of themselves in the process. Here are some general resources and services available in our state that were created to assist you. 

Internet Safety Resources

Safehome.org has put together a resource for parents and caregivers on 'Keeping Kids Safe in Cyber Space'

The State Police of Rhode Island has put together a list of General Internet Safety Resources for the public of all ages to keep in mind including the first-ever coordinated message designed to help keep all digital citizens safer and more secure online. 

Opportunities for Recreation, Education, Support and More

In an effort to protect children and strengthen families, our state has developed community programs and services that address varying needs. Following are brief descriptions of school-based programs that are available. Find these services in your area.

  • Family Friendly Centers (FFC) FFCs are located in host schools to enhance afterschool programming in elementary and middle schools.  FFCs provide constructive academic, recreational, and social enrichment activities to students and their families.  All FFC programs emphasize positive youth development, encourage parental participation, and seek to establish partnerships with school and community stakeholders to meet the unique needs of youth and their families.
  • School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP) The SBYSP is located in host schools and coordinates with existing resources in the community.  All youth are eligible to participate and services are provided before, during and after school.  SBYSP services include: Mental Health Counseling; Employment Counseling; Substance Abuse Education/Prevention; Preventive Health Awareness including Pregnancy Prevention; Primary Medical Linkages; Learning Support; Healthy Youth Development; Recreation; and Information/Referral. Diverse teenagers
  • Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (PJD) PJD is located in host schools to enhance the services and to collaborate with the Division of Family and Community Partnerships (DFCP)-funded School Based Youth Services Program. All youth enrolled in the host school where they display behaviors that can or have caused them to become involved in the juvenile justice system are eligible to participate. 
    PJD services complement the School Based Youth Services Program and focus specifically on juvenile delinquency prevention strategies and self-regulation skills to prevent juvenile delinquent behaviors that can impede the student’s achievement of their education and life goals.  PJD services include: Case Management and Counseling Services; Collaboration with Local Law Enforcement, state and school and community based agencies, Drop Out Prevention, Life and Coping Skills.
  • Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (APPI) APPI is located in host schools to enhance the services and to collaborate with Division of Family and Community Partnerships (DFCP)-funded School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP) where available.  All youth enrolled in the host school, where they display behaviors that could lead to an unplanned pregnancy, are eligible to participate.   Youth involved in the program will gain increased pregnancy prevention skills to support the achievement of their education and life goals.  APPI services complement the SBYSP program, where available, and focus specifically on pregnancy prevention skills and knowledge to support the student’s ability to achieve their education and life goals.  APPI services include: Case Management and Counseling Services; Education and Awareness groups; Linkages to available services and resources; and Collaboration with school personnel.
  • Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth (TLC) The overarching goal of the TLC program is to promote mental health awareness and healing through the building of an informed and competent school community equipped to prevent suicide and recover after a traumatic incident.  Basic components of all TLC curricula include: suicide prevention, intervention and postvention and trauma response to build local capacity in schools and communities to promote mental health awareness and technical assistance to schools and communities for the benefit of school age youth.   
  • Parent Linking Program (PLP) The PLP is located in host high schools to enhance the services and to collaborate with Division of Family and Community Partnerships (DFCP)-funded School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP).  The PLP works to minimize/eliminate barriers expectant and parenting teens (including young fathers) face that can prevent them from completing their education.  This is accomplished through the development and implementation of programs that strengthen pregnant and parenting teen’s ability and access to complete their education (secondary and postsecondary); improve child and maternal health outcomes; improve pregnancy spacing and reduce the likelihood of repeat teen pregnancies; increase parenting skills for mothers, fathers, and families; strengthen positive young father involvement and co-parenting relationships, as appropriate, decrease intimate partner violence; and raise awareness of available resources.  

State and Local Health Resources

NJ FamilyCare logoHealth insurance is available for eligible children under 18 years of age. NJ FamilyCare is New Jersey's publicly funded health insurance program and includes CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), Medicaid and Medicaid expansion populations. This program is geared to help New Jersey’s uninsured children and parents and guardians who fall within certain income criteria. Qualified NJ residents of any age may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance that covers doctor visits, prescriptions, vision, dental care, mental health and substance use services and even hospitalization. Visit the NJ FamilyCare website to apply online or download an application. You can also apply over the phone by calling 800-701-0710.

Newark School-Based Health Centers (SBHC)

SBHC provide primary medical, dental and behavioral health care services to students and families (up to age 21) in the school where the health center is based and other locations in its surrounding community.

Family Planning Options

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey
These organizations seek to improve the health and safety of women, prevent unintended pregnancies, and assist individuals and families in making informed choices. To find a planned parenthood center near you call 800-230-PLAN (7526) or visit their website

Birthright International
Birthright provides caring, non-judgmental support to girls and women who are distressed by an unplanned pregnancy. Using its own resources and those of the community, Birthright offers positive and loving alternatives. Birthright presents many services and refers to many more. The organization provides friendship and emotional support, free pregnancy testing and maternity and baby clothes. It also gives information and referrals to help clients meet legal, medical, financial, and housing needs. All Birthright services are free, confidential, and available to any woman regardless of age, race, creed, economic or marital status. Birthright operates a 24-hour North American hotline, at 1-800-550-4900. Find a location near you.

Planned Parenthood New Jersey logo

New Jersey's Safe Haven
Under the state’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, an individual can give up an unwanted baby safely, legally and anonymously as long as the child is unharmed. The Act safeguards unwanted babies from being hurt or killed from the dangers of abandonment. The law allows parents, or someone acting on their behalf, to legally and anonymously surrender an unwanted infant who is under 30 days old to any hospital emergency room or police station in the state. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families will take the infant into custody and place the infant in a foster or pre-adoptive home. Parents will be safe from prosecution if the baby has not been abused.

To learn more about this program call the Safe Haven hotline at 877-839-2339 or visit their website.

Adoption Agencies Approved to Provide Adoption Services in New Jersey

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV
The state’s Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Program strives to prevent and reduce the effects of STDs in New Jersey through prevention, education, screening, treatment, and surveillance. If you have questions you want answered, call the NJ STD/HIV Hotline at 800-624-2377. Find a screening clinic near you.

Finding the Path that is right for you

Transitions for Youth (TFY)
This state-wide initiative is designed to address the many needs of youth transitioning to adulthood. TFY serves the most vulnerable populations of young people such as youth involved in foster care, juvenile justice, and the mental health system. Its goal is to ensure that these young people have knowledge of the resources available to them to transition from youth to adulthood. Services include Life Skills Training, Aftercare, Education and Employment, Housing, Healthcare, Addiction Services, Youth Advocacy, Financial Assistance for Independent Living, and Permanency services. Learn More

New Jersey Youth Corps Helps those who have left high school before graduating.
New Jersey Youth Corps is a state-administered, locally operated program designed to assist young adults (ages 16-25) who have left high school prior to graduation and prepares them for employment in the workforce. This program is a voluntary and full-time commitment through which Corps members spend half their time working toward a high school equivalency diploma (GED) and the remainder in community service and/or work experience projects. Additionally, personal and career counseling and support services are provided to help transitions to higher education, vocational training, employment, military or national service To learn more: Visit their website or call New Jersey Youth Corps at 609-292-2060.

Battling Personal/Internal Demons

Find the help you need to handle a drinking problem.
AL-ANON and ALATEEN, are national groups that offer support and information for families, friends, and others needing the services of Alcoholics Anonymous and Teen Al-Anon. Learn more about them and find a group in your area here.

Is food consuming your thoughts?
Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood and are more likely to be experienced by women and girls, (although an estimated 5-15% of those who suffer from these disorders are male.) An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Eating disorders are very complex, and despite scientific research to understand them, the biological, behavioral and social underpinnings of these illnesses remain elusive. They are treatable. Learn more

Feeling Stressed?
Learn what stress is, how your body responds to it and how you can control it in a healthy way. Read and learn to find out if your level of stress is leading to more serious problems. All this and much more is available at Girlshealth.gov a website devoted to helping girls (ages 10-16) learn about health, growing up, and issues they may face. Promoting healthy and positive behavior in girls, the information is reliable and useful and is presented in a fun, easy-to-understand way.

Bullying
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both those who are bullied and those who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. The older you get, the more bullying behavior has the potential to be considered a crime. Stopbullying.gov is a site that provides information about the different forms bullying behavior takes and what can be done about it. Regardless of whether you are the one being bullied or are a witness to this behavior, don't stay silent. Learn what you can do to respond to and prevent this abusive behavior.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Seek help before it is too late.
Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24; only accidents and homicides occur more frequently. Firearms remain the most commonly used suicide method among youth, regardless of race or gender. Research has shown that most adolescent suicides occur in the afternoon or early evening and in the teen's home. Don't battle thoughts of suicide alone. Individuals seeking immediate crisis assistance should call 800-273-TALK (8255).

Sometimes it just helps to talk to someone.

If something is concerning you and you don’t have someone you feel comfortable discussing it with, try reaching out to the 2NDFLOOR - a confidential and anonymous helpline for NJ's youth and young adults ranging in age from 10 to 24. It is open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Youth can either call the helpline using a toll-free number, 888-222-2228 or access the interactive website. Calls to the 2NDFLOOR youth helpline are anonymous and confidential except in life-threatening situations.

Youth are provided with solutions and resources to the problems they face at home, at school or at play. Youth that access services receive quality service, support, and information from trained counselors, volunteers and interns. Trained counselors are available to help youth make healthy decisions and find solutions to various worries they face such as: peer relationships, bullying, mental health issues, dating, sex/sexuality issues, etc. 2NDFLOOR services include: 24/7 Helpline; Interactive website with an on-line Message Board; Text Support, Youth Advisory Council (YAC) and Information/Referral.  Hearing impaired callers can reach 2NDFLOOR at the following TTY number: 732-264-1703.

Research Sources Include

http://www.nj.gov/dcf/about/divisions/ol/AdoptionAgency.pdf
http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/adolescent/healthcare/
http://www.njfamilycare.org/apply.aspx
http://www.nj.gov/dcf/families/school/healthcenter/
http://www.2ndfloor.org/
http://www.nj.gov/dcf/families/dfcp/index.html
http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/children/familyplan.shtml
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/
http://socialwork.rutgers.edu/InstituteForFamilies/officeofchildwelfareinitiatives/TFY.aspx
http://www.girlshealth.gov/
http://www.stopbullying.gov/index.html
http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/children/suicidepre.shtml