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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
United 4 Children to Lead St. Louis Area Regional Hub to Improve Resources for Families
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI (March 31, 2021) – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and its Office of Early Learning named United 4 Children as the community leader for a new St. Louis Regional Hub – a coordinated support system that will guarantee families have the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions that impact the safety, health, and education of their children.
United 4 Children Executive Director Deanna Finch believes this hub model will help make the St. Louis region more equitable for children and families. Currently, families in low-income neighborhoods may have access to fewer resources or lack awareness of what resources are available to them. The regional hub model will encourage relationship building among families, schools, and childcare providers to change that.
“It’s going to take all of us – families, childcare providers, schools, and service providers – to build this hub model into what St. Louis area children and families want and need. United 4 Children is committed to a collaborative, co-creation approach as we search for partners in this work,” Finch said.
The Office of Early Learning also announced leaders for other regional hubs across the state this week and plans to identify additional regional hubs this spring. All regional hubs will focus on building a foundation of strong community partnerships throughout 2021, and will be operational and serving families by summer or fall 2022.
The regional hubs will coordinate community resources available to families, such as resources related to nutrition, mental health, education, development, literacy and more. United 4 Children Program Officer Elisa Zieg said this model is all about listening to what people need and helping get those resources to them. Better access to resources could improve long-term outcomes for a child or family.
“St. Louis is a leader in preschool and school suspensions. We know that those suspensions have a ripple effect for families,” Zieg said. “That one thing can impact a family’s ability to keep a job or stay in their home. The suspensions end up leading to further negative life outcomes, including prison. The preschool to prison pipeline is a real thing.”
Additionally, Finch said this new regional hub model will help United 4 Children accelerate part of its long-term strategic plan.
“Through much of our current work, we refer families and childcare providers to helpful resources, but we don’t always have formal partnerships with those resources. This new regional hub will be a systematic way for us to build and improve relationships with those resource providers in the area,” she explained. “We had this innovative idea as part of our new strategic plan in 2019 not expecting that this type of investment would be made by the State. This opportunity will expedite what we were expecting we could accomplish in five to ten years.”
The Office of Early Learning named community leaders for other proposed regional hubs throughout the state this week. The full list announced included six hubs:
- United 4 Children and a school district partner to be determined at a later date will lead the St. Louis County and St. Louis City hub;
- Mid America Regional Council, Partners in Quality Park Hill School District will lead the Clay, Lafayette, Platte, and Ray counties hub;
- Mid America Regional Council, Partners in Quality Kansas City School District, and Independence School District will lead the Jackson County hub;
- Youth in Need and Wentzville R-IV School District will lead the Lincon, Warraen and St. Charles counties hub;
- One Stop for Early Childhood and Springfield R-XII School District will lead the Christian, Greene, and Webster counties hub; and
- Abilities First will lead the Stone and Taney counties hub, with help from one additional partner to be determined at a later date.
About United 4 Children
United 4 Children provides comprehensive services to childcare and after school programs that address the many needs of the whole child. The organization empowers childcare providers with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that children feel safe, supported, and engaged in high-quality, developmentally appropriate activities by qualified and caring adults. United 4 Children strives to meet community needs where other resources do not exist. It is the only Missouri State funded program addressing the federal recommendation of reducing suspension rates through teaching social-emotional skills and inclusive practices. In addition, United 4 Children is an official sponsor of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for family childcare home providers in both Missouri and Illinois. To learn more, visit united4children.org.