On Thursday, February 8, 2012 Mayor Slay convened the Commission on Children, Youth and Families for their first meeting of 2012. The meeting was held at the Nine Network of Public Media where Jack Galmiche, president and CEO of the Nine Network, welcomed the Commission to a beautifully renovated space in their facilities.
Mayor Slay began the meeting by noting a few changes that occurred in the child, youth and family serving world including the retirement of Commission Members Jerry Paul of the Deaconess Foundation and Don Cuvo of the Mental Health Board. He also mentioned the formation of United 4 Children, which was created in late 2011 when St. Louis for Kids and CDCA (Child Day Care Association) joined forces.
First on the agenda were Dr. Louise Flick and Dr. Vetta Sanders-Thompson who gave an update on the National Children's Study. St. Louis was selected as one of 105 counties from across the country to participate in the Children's Study. Furthermore, St. Louis was one of only 5 counties selected as a pilot site to identify the most effective and efficient methods for recruiting and enrolling participants. In December of 2010 staff began enrolling participants in the study. In December 2011 St. Louis entered "Phase 2" of the pilot study. This means staff is now collecting both environmental and biological samples from participants. According to Dr. Flick previous studies that have focused on children's health have not started early enough, have not been large enough, and have not been long enough to give the health community the data they really need. The National Children's Study hopes to change that. Funding for this study must be approved by congress every year. Therefore, there is a great incentive to publish updates on the progress of this study and any preliminary data on a regular basis.
Click on image to view slides from the PowerPoint presentation given by Drs. Flick and Sanders-Thompson.
Next on the agenda was Dr. Melissa Jonson-Reid who is a Commission Member and director of the Center for Violence and Injury Prevention. Dr. Jonson-Reid's presentation focused on a research study she conducted that examined the effects that poverty and abuse and neglect have on the later outcomes of children.
She presented compelling data that followed 5,332 children living in St. Louis City and showed the clear impact poverty alone, child abuse and neglect alone, and the combination of these two risk factors has on the later outcomes of youth such as need for special education, court petitions for violent delinquency, treatment for STDs, drug arrest or treatment, teen pregnancy, later perpetration of child abuse and neglect, and adult arrest records.
Dr. Jonson-Reid used her detailed data to support her recommendations for areas of intervention to focus on which include preventing the reoccurrence of child abuse and neglect reports which is linked to both later violent delinquency and child abuse and neglect perpetration and preventing teen delinquency and pregnancy which are linked to adult arrests and later perpetration of child abuse an neglect, respectively.
Dr. Jonson-Reid ended her presentation by citing programs and methods that may help prevent maltreatment, provide positive parenting support for caregivers, and better use the connections some groups already have with high risk families (pediatricians, Children's Division, Parents as Teachers educators) to improve outcomes for children.
The meeting concluded with a discussion of youth violence led by Mayor Slay. Commission Members had a lot to say about this topic as issues such as family connectedness, school connectedness, home visitation programs as early intervention, teen pregnancy, workforce development, re-entry programs for teens, and issues of dealing with policy, resources, and coordination and collaboration were all mentioned.
The next meeting of the Mayor's Commission on Children, Youth and Families will be on Thursday, April 19 at 8:30 AM at St. Louis Community College- Forest Park in Cafe East.