Starting in 2005 and continuing over the next couple of years, most Missouri communities experienced reduced funding in mental health and substance abuse services for children and youth due to budget cuts at the state and federal level. Recognizing the needs of children and families in St. Louis County, a coalition of committed local nonprofit agencies decided to address the growing problem.
An independent needs assessment was commissioned and a polling survey conducted which documented the need and gave the agencies the data that St. Louis County voters needed to support the initiative. Using Missouri State Statutes RSMO 67.1775 and 210.861, which allowed local communities to create a community children’s service fund for ten specific mental health and substance abuse service areas through a referendum, the St. Louis County Putting Kids First Campaign was launched in 2008.
Putting Kids First, also known as Proposition 1, passed on November 4, 2008 with a resounding 62% of St. Louis County voters’ approval. Approximately $40 million in annual resources are collected and distributed to local nonprofits and government agencies to provide behavioral health and substance abuse services for children and youth from birth to age 19.