Starting in 2005 and continuing over the next couple of years, many communities across Missouri experienced reduced funding in mental health and substance use treatment 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 and community supporters decided to address the growing problem.
An independent needs assessment was commissioned which provided the data 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 behavioral health 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.
Today, St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund (CSF) is the largest children’s service fund in the state of Missouri, generating approximately $40 million annually through a quarter cent sales tax.
Since the first allocation in 2010, CSF has invested over $300 million in local nonprofits and governmental agencies to provide behavioral health services for children and youth in the county. Through collaboration and partnership, CSF ensures children and youth have the support and resources they need to achieve their potential.