United 4 Children Named as Missouri’s Early Care and Education Resource and Referral Network 

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI (June 2023) Through a competitive bid process, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Office of Childhood awarded United 4 Children to serve as Missouri’s Early Care and Education Resource and Referral Network – which is a four-year contract. In the months ahead, United 4 Children’s senior leadership team and program managers will work closely with the state to coordinate final details needed to begin implementing this program.

“Our United 4 Children team is delighted by the opportunity to ensure that all children have a strong foundation to thrive through the Early Care and Education Resource and Referral Network,” United 4 Children Executive Director Deanna Finch said. “We are excited about the opportunity to further serve families, children, and early childcare educators across the state!” 

The Early Care and Education Resource and Referral Network coordinates and provides resource and referral services to early care professionals, children, and families in Missouri. The updated Resource and Referral Network contract includes the state’s Community Leader work. 

United 4 Children has served as a Community Leader for the St. Louis Region – working with community partners to provide resources that support families with children birth to age five. The state identified Community Leaders for each region of Missouri to form a coordinated support system focused on making sure families have the resources and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about the safety, health, and education of their children.  

As the state’s Resource & Referral Network, United 4 Children will be tasked with: 

Child Care Consumer Information & Education 

  • Assist families in selecting high-quality Early Care and Education services that meet their needs. 
  • Create and provide education resources for the general public. 

Child Care Search & Referral 

  • Implement a child care referral database. 
  • Establish a process for connecting families to local child care options. 

Community Leaders & Resources 

  • Select community leaders in each geographic region of the state. 
  • Support local efforts to identify children in need of special education resources by collaborating with a variety of early childcare programs, health care providers, and school districts in the region. 

Supply & Demand Data 

  • Collect and provide information on the supply and demand for child care services. 
  • Support new child care business owners to provide services in areas identified as “childcare deserts.”

United 4 Children plans to ground this program in The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning’s pyramid model – which promotes social emotional development and school readiness.  

“I’m proud of our team for the work they’ve put in to become a go-to resource for Missouri’s children, their families and early childcare educators,” Finch said. “Making this type of statewide impact is in our foundation”. 

One of the nonprofit’s parent organizations, Child Day Care Association of St. Louis, implemented a prior version of the resource and referral program through a regional, community-centered approach. In 2012, Child Day Care Association of St. Louis, which had been in the community since 1969, and St. Louis for Kids merged to form United 4 Children. United 4 Children has continued to make a state-wide impact through the federally funded programs: Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and Childcare Inclusion Services. Our teams have an average of 22 years of experience representing more than 732 years of combined experience in early child care education providing training, coaching, and on-site mentoring. 


About United 4 Children: United 4 Children’s vision is to ensure every child has the foundation to thrive. The nonprofit’s team believes that all children deserve a strong foundation to thrive regardless of race, zip code, or ability. The United 4 Children team meets caregivers where they are to assess, train, coach, and support them with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that children feel safe, are nourished, and are nurtured with social-emotional and inclusive services. To learn more, visit united4children.org.  

                                           Media Contact: Megan Mansouri | Mansourim@united4children.org | 314-531-1412 ext. 156 

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