The Children’s Services Coalition is comprised of nonprofit agencies that all have a successful history of serving the needs of children and families in the Greater St. Louis area. CSC members work together to promote the delivery of high-quality social and behavioral healthcare services for Missouri’s children and their families through advocacy, collaboration, and communication. They strive to:
• Act as a forum for identifying needs and gaps in the continuum of care for Missouri’s children and their families;
• Act as a vehicle for discussion and sharing of knowledge, services and best practices;
• Encourage program and funding collaborations and referrals;
• Mobilize grassroots support as appropriate; and
• Provide a unified voice regarding services, funding and advocacy for Missouri’s children and their families.
“What began as a small task force to address unmet behavioral health needs of St. Louis County’s children has evolved into a 40+ member coalition promoting the delivery of high quality social and behavioral healthcare,” said Pat Holterman-Hommes, MA, LPC, CSC Board President from 2011-2013 and CEO of Youth In Need. “By working collaboratively to provide a unified voice for services, funding and advocacy, the Children’s Services Coalition is helping children have the emotional foundation and resources to achieve their potential.”
When St. Louis County was contemplating the elimination of all mental health services to residents, the leaders of BJC Behavioral Health, Catholic Family Services, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Lutheran Family & Children’s Service and Provident formed the Family Mental Health Collaborative (FMHC) and contracted with the county to provide mental health services to its residents beginning in January 2005.
FMHC was soon serving more clients at the five agencies’ 23 locations and doing so for only 40 percent of the previous cost, with St. Louis University School of Medicine providing psychiatric services. Because each FMHC agency provides many other supportive services, clients often benefit from case management, child day care or older adult home-based services, emergency and food pantry assistance and other related services.
The five FMHC agencies then organized the Children’s Services Coalition (CSC) by inviting other nonprofits to join them in discussing unmet needs, resources and approaches to meeting them. In January 2007 the coalition commissioned an in-depth assessment of the various needs for mental health services of youth throughout all parts of St. Louis County. The resulting Report to St. Louis County Citizens issued in January of 2008 revealed that more than 120,000 county youth lacked appropriate mental health services. In response to the appalling needs the study revealed, the (at the time) 20 CSC agencies formed a broader coalition called Putting Kids First (PKF) to support a grassroots effort to promote a quarter cent sales tax. The tax was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November 2008, and this led directly to the formation of the St. Louis County Children’s Services Fund which, in 2010, began to distribute $35-40 million annually to agencies that provide mental health and substance abuse services to youth in St. Louis County.
After the passage of the dedicated sales tax, the 40+ CSC agencies decided to continue to work together as a membership organization and created bylaws, committees and elected officers in July 2009. The CSC Board of Directors meets monthly to explore ways of promoting delivery of quality social and behavioral healthcare services for children and their families throughout the metropolitan area, not just in St. Louis County. Its three committees—Advocacy, Collaboration and Communications—actively seek new ways to collaboratively expand services to youth and their families. The CSC website is designed to help both professionals and families identify the resources they need in the geographic areas most convenient to them.