A Holistic Approach to Change

Vision for Children at Risk embraces a Socio-Ecological Model of Change in which the well-being of children is a shared responsibility that requires the concerted effort of society, communities, and families.
Image showing our Holistic Approach to Change

Our theory of change is based on these assumptions:

  • Racial and economic inequities exist that adversely impact the well-being of children;
  • Family and community voice are critical in creating meaningful change;
  • Families and communities must be included as leaders in the (re)creation and implementation of the systems, policies, and practices that impact their lives;
  • Child well-being cannot be separated from family well-being; and
  • Movement toward child well-being requires macro level policy change as well as micro level change in individual lives.

We believe that meaningful long-term change will result when these outcomes are achieved.

Download our theory of change here and a graphic displaying our work in action here

Healthy Children

Children need to develop reliable social and emotional skills to navigate the world in a healthy way and to thrive as adults. This can only be accomplished within the context of stable and supportive family relationships, as well as communal and societal support for children and their parents. Our advocacy work focuses on providing our region’s children with access to mental and physical healthcare, early screenings to detect potential developmental issues and systems-level protections from abuse and neglect.
Indicators that we are achieving the desired outcome for children
  • Parents/caregivers have healthy interpersonal relationships;
  • Parents/caregivers model nurturing behaviors and positive communication;
  • Parents/caregivers are socially connected and resilient;
  • Children receive timely developmental screenings and needed follow-up services; and
  • Children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.

Strong Families

To a young child, their immediate family seems like the entire framework of the world. By their nurturing, parents and caregivers equip their children with the social and emotional skills needed to navigate the world in a healthy way. VCR recognizes that caregivers in our region often experience social and economic conditions that give rise to toxic stress. We advocate for better mental health resources and strong community supports. By providing parents with a space to express and manage their own trauma, we build a supportive platform in which positive parenting techniques and healthy parent-child relationships can take root.
Indicators that we are achieving the desired outcome for families:
  • Parents/caregivers have healthy interpersonal relationships;
  • Parents/caregivers model nurturing behaviors and positive communication;
  • Parents/caregivers are socially connected and resilient;
  • Parents understand child development;
  • Families are empowered to make decisions about their own families; and
  • Families recognize and embrace their role as active community/civic participants.

Connected Communities

Members of the communities VCR serves have proven themselves to be knowledgeable and capable partners in the work of assuring child well-being. And yet, great racial inequities exist in access to healthy food, health and mental health resources, housing, education opportunities, employment opportunities, wealth accumulation, and transportation. These inequities in turn, result in inequities in child well-being.
Indicators that we are achieving the desired outcome of connected communities:
  • The community has opportunities to access affordable, healthy food, affordable and decent housing, quality mental and physical health care, gainful employment, transportation, and early care and education;
  • Neighborhoods are stable and safe;
  • Communities encourage active parent/caregiver participation in activities and decision-making;
  • Linkages to concrete supports and quality services are available when needed; and
  • The community has culturally competent services and supports.

Equitable Society

VCR employs a combination of state-level, local, and grassroots advocacy to create systems-level change. As we move forward, our goal is to continue to incorporate the lived experience of our families into advocacy work. Working together with parents, community advocates and service providers, we strive to create an environment in which all of our community members feel safe, feel empowered, and are free from the social toxic stress that has proven to harm families and children.

Indicators that we are achieving the desired outcome of an equitable society:
  • Federal, state, and local laws and policies acknowledge racial inequity and seek to redress it;
  • Families can meet basic needs through a combination of living wages and work supports (e.g. earned income tax credit, SNAP, subsidized childcare);
  • Social norms and public will recognize that we are all responsible for the common good; and
  • There is no stigma associated with needing or asking for help.

View Other Focus Areas


Upcoming Events

Community Cafe

Conversations that Matter-focusing on children’s mental health stigma. Stay tuned for more details.

STLCANN Training
A Panel Presentation:
Services for Children and Families throughout the St. Louis region.


Project LAUNCH
Parent's 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.