Our History

Our History

For over 25 years, Vision for Children at Risk has worked to build community action and programs improving the well-being of children impacted by poverty and lack of basic supports for their healthy growth and development.

VCR traces its origins to 1990 when members of a north St. Louis church, Saints Teresa and Bridget saw a daily tragedy where thousands of children lived in severe poverty in the decaying neighborhood around them. Seeking to illustrate to the rest of St. Louis the severe needs of these children, they commissioned a report in 1991, Addressing the Needs of St. Louis Children at Risk. As a result, community leaders launched a round of strategic goals and action plans through an informal coalition called Vision for Children at Risk. These two elements—data research and collaboration—grew into today’s Vision for Children at Risk and continue to be part of the core of our work today.

Eleven editions of the Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report have been published since 1991. VCR has sparked collaboration in the creation of dozens of program and policy initiatives to improve child health and well-being in the St. Louis region, generating millions in funding and benefiting tens of thousands of children annually. VCR has engaged business and civic leaders in working to improve child well-being and helped create a statewide children’s advocacy organization. In addition, VCR has held six St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Summits drawing community and stakeholder attention to children’s issues.

Recent and past successes include the St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council, Project LAUNCH, Kids Win Missouri (formerly Missouri Children’s Leadership Council), the St. Louis Child Abuse & Neglect Network, the Maternal Child Family Health Coalition, the St. Louis Mayor’s Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Success, the St. Louis Community Children’s Service Fund, SafeFutures and more. Programs developed through VCR have attracted millions of dollars in new funding for children’s services in the region and benefit tens of thousands of children annually. Because of Vision for Children at Risk, many programs and policies are in place today serving children and greater community collaboration exists.

Vision for Children at Risk continues to be a catalyst for positive change in the way the St. Louis region takes care of its children and supports its families.

Our Historical Timeline

1991 – Project Respond published first Addressing the Needs of St. Louis Children at Risk report.

1993 – Vision for Children at Risk initiative evolved from Project Respond and launched with three strategies: Research; Collaboration; and Advocacy.

1994 – Second report published, renamed Children of Metropolitan St. Louis.

1996 – U.S. Safe Futures grant of $7.2 million for juvenile justice programs awarded to St. Louis through Project Respond and Vision for Children at Risk.

1997 – Third Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

1998 – First St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Summit held; establishes St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Agenda with some 25 strategies.

1999 – Vision for Children at Risk established as independent 501(c)(3) organization.

1999 – Fourth Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

2001 – Fifth Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

2001 – St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Summit featured national child advocate Shay Bilchik, director of the Child Welfare League of America.

2002 – Maternal Child & Family Health Coalition received first $2.2-million federal Health Start grant for preventive health services to disadvantaged young mothers.

2003 – Sixth Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

2004 – Vision for Children at Risk works with St. Louis Mayor’s Office in holding Mayor’s Summit and established city Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Success.

2004 – Early Childhood Success coalition received $1-million federal Early Learning Opportunities grant.

2004 – Vision for Children at Risk and Children’s Agenda partners work with St. Louis Mental Health Board and helped achieve passage of Community Children’s Services Fund tax providing dedicated revenue for children’s services.

2004 – St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Summit focused on economic returns of investing in children; featured speaker is Rob Grunewald of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

2005 – Child Health Resources in the St. Louis Region assessment published under grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

2005 – Seventh Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

2006 – Vision for Children at Risk launches series of forums on public education issues in St. Louis.

2006 – Vision for Children at Risk received U.S. Compassion Capital, Community Empowering Youth program grant of $750,000 over three years for capacity building with community partners.

2007 – St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Summit focused on public education reform; featured speaker is Dr. Pedro Noguera of New York University; attracts record attendance of 325.

2007 – First annual Child Abuse Prevention Month ceremony at St. Louis City Hall held by the St. Louis Family & Community Partnership.

2007 – Eighth Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

2009 – New Vision for Children at Risk data and information website launched with greatly expanded data on child well-being along with commentary and best practices on children.

2009 – St. Louis Metropolitan Children’s Summit focused on promoting investment in children as a strategy toward regional economic success. Speakers include Robert H. Dugger of the Partnership for America’s Economic Success and Otis White of Civic Strategies.

2009 – Ninth Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report published.

2010 – Missouri Children’s Leadership Council formed to coordinate statewide advocacy for children.

2011 – St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council formed combining four existing early childhood initiatives.

2011 – Vision for Children at Risk celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special event attended by over 200 people honoring three leading funders, James Kimmey, MD, of the Missouri Foundation for Health; the late Don Cuvo of the Saint Louis Mental Health Board and the late Rev. Jerry Paul of the Deaconess Foundation.

2012 – Online child well-being data updated to the “Kids’ Data Center” on the Vision for Children at Risk website.

2013 – Implementation began of five-year, $4.2-million Project LAUNCH grant promoting young child wellness in the 63106 and 63107 ZIP codes. VCR houses project operations under contract to the State of Missouri, the project grantee.

2014 – Missouri Children’s Leadership Council obtained funding to hire a lobbyist in the Missouri Capitol; achieves many legislative and funding successes for children.

2014 – St. Louis Family & Community Partnership started annual “Stepping Up for Kids” Awards Luncheon honoring foster and adoptive families and the agency staff who serve them.

2015 – Child Abuse Prevention Month observance expanded to include Family Resource and Fun Fair, in addition to yard-sign display added in 2014.

2017 – Tenth Children of Metropolitan St. Louis data book published.

2017 – St. Louis Metropolitan Early Childhood Summit drew attendance of 280 and features introduction of the St. Louis Metropolitan Early Childhood Plan and publication of the Building Blocks report on the early care and education landscape.

2017 – St. Louis Family & Community Partnership merged with St. Louis Area Council on Child Abuse & Neglect to form the St. Louis Area Child Abuse & Neglect Network (STLCANN).

2017 – Fourth annual Stepping Up for Kids Awards luncheon drew attendance of 320.

2017 – Vision for Children at Risk’s co-founding Executive Director Richard Patton retired as of December 31 and is succeeded by Sanaria Sulaiman.

2018 – VCR moved its office and meeting space to the new Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being.

2018 – Fifth annual Stepping Up for Kids Luncheon drew attendance of over 300.

2018 – Vision for Children at Risk evolved as a result of Project LAUNCH and added Family Engagement as its fourth focus area, in addition to Advocacy, Collaboration, Data and Research. 

2018 – Vision for Children at Risk formed a partnership with the System of Care Network, providing Family Support Services in St. Louis City and County

2019 – Implementation began of five-year, $4 million Project LAUNCH (Linking Action for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) grant funded by SAMHSA to promote young child wellness in the City of St. Louis.

2019 – Implementation began of five-year, $2.7 million Parent and Children Together St. Louis grant Funded by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families to promote the well-being of children and families through a continuum of community-based services and supports in St. Louis City and County.

2019 – Sixth annual Stepping Up for Kids Luncheon drew attendance of more than 300.

2020 – Eleventh Children of Metropolitan St. Louis data book published.

2020 – Vision for Children at Risk introduced its new logo, website, and branding.

View Our Focus Areas

Engaging
Collaborating
Informing
Advocating

Upcoming Events

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APR
17
Project LAUNCH
Dad's Café

Connect with other dads and learn more about strengthening your family.

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APR
21
PACT-STL
Parent Café
Connect with other parents and caregivers to strengthen your family.
Virtual
Apr
27
Project LAUNCH Parent Café

Connect with other parents and caregivers to strengthen your family.

Children’s Data

Children of Metropolitan St. Louis
A Report to the Community

Vision for Children at Risk informs the community with data and information on child well-being in the St. Louis area, builds and drives collaboration and strategic action for children, and advocates for policies and investment in children that support child well-being.