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). In Missouri, Project LAUNCH is a collaborative effort led by the Department of Mental Health, in partnership with the Department of Health and Senior Services. The project’s purpose is to create a coordinated system that addresses the needs of children ages 0–8 and allows them to thrive in safe, supportive environments and enter school with the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills they need to succeed.
Through education and awareness efforts, Missouri Project LAUNCH is charged with connecting and strengthening the supports for parents, pediatricians, educators, social service agencies and child care providers so that children ages 0–8 can thrive in safe, supportive environments and enter school with the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills they need to succeed. Guided by an evaluation conducted by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at University of Missouri St. Louis; and state and local councils; grant outcomes will inspire practice and policy changes toward a more integrated and sustainable early childhood service system throughout Missouri.
Project LAUNCH in St. Louis serves the 63106 and 63107 ZIP codes in north St. Louis. Vision for Children at Risk contracts with the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Health and Senior Services to handle local Project LAUNCH operations. For more information, contact Sanaria Sulaiman, Vision for Children at Risk executive director, 314-534-6015, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ensure that Missouri’s early childhood programs and services are comprehensive, coordinated, accessible, adequately funded and of the highest quality to meet the needs and to promote the well-being of all young children and their families. This can be accomplished by (a) developing key partnerships, (b) building collaborative strategies and (c) ensuring equal access to necessary resources, resulting in the implementation of an effective and sustainable early childhood system.
All young children in Missouri are safe, healthy and capable of reaching their full potential.
Five Areas of Focus
Project LAUNCH grantees implement five core prevention and promotion strategies:
- Screening and assessment in a variety of child-serving settings,
- Enhanced home visiting through increased focus on social and emotional well-being,
- Mental health consultation in early care and education programs,
- Family strengthening and parent skills training, and
- Integration of behavioral health into primary care settings.
Current Activities 2018
Community Café sessions are under way in the areas of Safety and Education. Through the Community Café, parents and other community members develop and implement solutions to issues impacting children and families in their neighborhoods. Through the cafes, participants build partnerships with government and other community institutions that can assist in solving the need. People who previously have been marginalized by the system learn to work to create positive change.
Also in 2018, parents are attending a 12-week session of the Chicago Parent Program, an evidence-based parenting program created for parents of young children (2-5 years old) and designed to meet the needs of a culturally and economically diverse audience.
Project LAUNCH Successes
From 2013 through 2017, Project LAUNCH has achieved the following results:
- 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.