The work of Vision for Children at Risk and the St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Agenda is carried out in a common framework that is focused on the fundamental life needs of children. Six broad areas of fundamental childhood need have been identified: Family Support, Early Childhood Development, Maternal and Child Health, Quality Education, Youth Development, and Safe Neighborhoods and Strong Communities.

VCR and the Children’s Agenda operate on the principle that children have fundamental life needs in each of these areas and that, as children, they have a right to have those needs met. The needs and rights of children are detailed in the Children’s Charter of Metropolitan St. Louis which was developed by the Children’s Agenda in the mid-1990s. There are more than 5,000 local
signatories to the Children’s Charter. The closely related efforts of VCR and the Children’s Agenda are directed to ensuring that effective, systematic provision is made for addressing the fundamental needs of all St. Louis area children.

There is no magic to the fundamental needs framework employed by Vision for Children at Risk and the Children’s Agenda. It has been adopted as a convenience to structure and integrate the work of the two initiatives. It also aligns well with the strategic approach to addressing children’s issues supported by the research that is based on prevention of risk factors and promotion of protective factors. The fundamental needs framework is compatible with other conceptual models for addressing children’s issues, such as Ready by 21, developed by the Forum for Youth Investment, and the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets.

Vision for Children at Risk conducts research to assess the extent to which the fundamental life needs of children in the St. Louis area are met. A report on those needs, the Children of Metropolitan St. Louis, is published every other year with data presented at the zip code level. That data is regularly updated and is available in the Info Center section of this website as well.

Through a structured, data-driven, collaborative process, the St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Agenda initiative – which involves some 700 representatives of more than 300 St. Louis area agencies and organizations – devises policy and program strategies directed to making more effective provision for addressing the unmet fundamental life needs of St. Louis area children. Those strategies are outlined in the Children’s Agenda section of this website. Other initiatives in the St. Louis region addressing the fundamental needs of children are also described in this Fundamental Needs section of the website under the headings related to the need, problem, or issue that they address.

A key characteristic of this Fundamental Needs section is that the content is jointly developed by the local community of individuals and organizations engaged in addressing the needs of children, youth, and families. The intent is to develop a common community view of these issues and civic platform from which strategic, collaborative community action can be taken.

If you have information that you think should be included in this section of the website or a perspective on these issues that you feel should be represented, please contact us.