Teens across New Jersey can start submitting entries for the 25th annual New Jersey Teen Media Contest, which highlights the state Department of Human Resources' mission to help manage the child support program.

Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said the contest is an opportunity for students and for teens across the state to express through art and the written word the importance and impact families have on them and their future.

The Department of Human Resources offers help in establishing and enforcing child support orders, locating parents, establishing paternity and medical support and providing convenient options for paying child support. The state child support program helps a million families across New Jersey.

"The importance of child support is a program that can really help strengthen families but also help families boost their incomes," said Neira.

"The goal is to strengthen families and the ability for parents to share the responsibility of parenting. This is a great opportunity for us to bring awareness to this great program."

The contest is open to all New Jersey middle and high school-aged students. Neira said every year, the contest has a different theme. This year's theme is for the students to illustrate a valuable life lesson or moment.

She said that could be something like when they were taught how to tie their shoes, saying thank you, helping others, learning how to ride a bike or learning how to make a secret family recipe.

The contest will accept entries in the hand-painted, hand-drawn and written word categories. All entries must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, March 11. Entries can be submitted either via the students' art or English/language arts teachers, if their school is registered. They can also submit entries directly to the website at www.NJTeenMedia.org.

Neira said 12 winners will be chosen, including three high school winners in each category of art and written word and three middle school winners in each of the two categories.

Winners will be notified and there will be an awards ceremony at the Statehouse in Trenton in the spring. While a prize package has not yet been determined, each winner will be featured in the 2021 Office of Child Support calendar and their work will be displayed in the Statehouse.

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