Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) is a child wellness promotion grant program of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Vision for Children at Risk received five years of funding for this initiative beginning in October of 2019. This effort is now building upon and sustaining the successes of the statewide Missouri Project LAUNCH (2012-2018) in which Vision for Children at Risk managed local child well-being efforts in two St. Louis City ZIP codes: 63106 & 63107.
We are working alongside the community and focusing on promoting the healthy development of young children. The work is centered around the City of St. Louis, and is in support of children, parents/guardians, professional caregivers, early childcare providers, and service providers. We are working diligently towards:
- Improving coordination and collaboration across family and child serving systems;
- Enhance the knowledge and behaviors of parents of children 0-8 on topics of early childhood development and community resources; and
- Increasing capacity of child care and early child providers on topics of early childhood social and emotional development.
Are you a parent or caregiver of a child 0-8 years old, or do you provide social supports for families? We have opportunities for you!
Families should be at the center of decisions that impact them. The Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) and Parent & Youth Advisory Councils (PYACs) help us make that happen. PACs put leadership and decision-making power back in your hands and connect you to a broad network of systems change makers. Join the Project LAUNCH PAC today and grow your impact. Contact Sam Blue to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org or 314.534.6015.
Support this initiative as a representative on the Young Child Wellness Council (YCWC). The YCWC includes, but is not limited to, health, behavioral health, education, childcare, Head Start, child welfare, and early intervention professionals. Parents and Caregivers of Children 0-8 years have another wonderful way to participate through the Parent Advisory Council, and they also send representatives to the YCWC. Staying closely connected to families is a priority for us. Contact Nathan Ivy to get involved: email@example.com or 314.534.6015.
Parent Advisory Council Model
Project LAUNCH’s opportunities for getting involved really center around the Parent Advisory Council Model. The following image shows how the Project LAUNCH Parent Advisory Council and Young Child Wellness Council are closely connected with a broader effort for children’s well-being.
To foster the healthy development and wellness of young children (birth through age 8), preparing them to thrive in school and beyond. We are working to build the capacities of caregivers of young children to promote healthy social and emotional development; to prevent mental, emotional and behavioral disorders; and to identify and address behavioral concerns before they develop into serious emotional disturbances (SED).
Our efforts include/will include throughout the course of this initiative:
- Conduct screening and assessment to ensure early identification of behavioral and developmental concerns using validated screening instruments; to include screening for other behavioral health issues, such as perinatal/maternal depression and substance misuse among parents (including opioid use), as appropriate.
- Provide family and parent training to help parents, guardians, and family caregivers provide healthy, safe, and secure environments in which young children can learn and grow.
- Integrate behavioral health into primary care settings to equip providers with the knowledge, skills, and resources to address issues related to young children’s and caregivers’ behavioral health within primary care settings, including on-site or virtual/telephonic consultation, screening, assessment, brief intervention, and/or referral to specialty care.
- Provide mental health consultation in early care and education to ensure that child care and educational settings provide optimal learning environments for young children, and social, emotional, and behavioral concerns are identified and addressed through screening, assessment, intervention, and/or referral.
- Establish a Young Child Wellness Council (YCWC) that will provide support to the project. Representation on the YCWC must include, but is not limited to, the following sectors: health, behavioral health, education, childcare, Head Start, child welfare, and early intervention. At least 10 percent representation must be from families with children from birth to 8 years of age.
- Improve coordination and collaboration across child- and family-serving systems and programs; and
- Raise public awareness and education related to early childhood development and mental health.
Thank you to our many families and organizational partners that have already joined in on this initiative, including: Affinia, BJC, Behavioral Health Response, Brown School Evaluation Center, Cardinal Glennon/St. Louis University, Delta Gamma Center, St. Louis Public Schools, and United for Children.
Vision for Children at Risk became closely connected to the Project LAUNCH initiative back in 2012 when we became the partner organization for implementing local efforts of a statewide Missouri Project LAUNCH (2012-2017 +1 year extension in 2018). From 2012-2017, we were instrumental in implementing:
- 1,636 early childhood social/emotional screenings in the St. Louis area
- 583 referrals for children and families needing additional services in the St. Louis area
- 896 parents and family members participating in Parent Cafés
- Some 200 parents and community members participated in the Community Café series on transportation
- 80 parents attending the Chicago Parent Program
- 1,636 young child screenings for social-emotional needs were completed with 583 children referred for services
- 450 children in early childcare centers benefiting from a special social-emotional curriculum
- Local ministers have started a Pastor Café series
- A community garden is being cultivated with fresh vegetables
As a result of the Community Café series on transportation, several positive changes have been implemented in conjunction with Metro: 1) a text-on-demand app indicating bus arrival times; 2) an adopt-a-stop cleanup program; 3) training for drivers; and 4) funding requests to local aldermen for improved lighting at bus stops.