County Children’s Service Fund Announces Award of Nearly $5 million for Innovation in Discovery Initiative Cycle of Funding


June 19, 2014 (CLAYTON, MO) — On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund (CSF) board announced awards totaling nearly $5 million for innovative projects proposed under the Discovery Initiative Cycle of funding.

The Discovery Cycle supports innovative projects that lead to breakthrough ideas which shape the future of mental health and substance abuse care. Twenty four agencies received allocations for innovation. Of the twenty four agencies, eight organizations are new CSF partners, bringing the total funded agencies to 67. The maximum amount received was $250,000 over 18 months of funding, beginning August 1, 2104. All of the programs awarded under the Discovery Initiative Cycle target the 9 zip codes with the highest concentration of poverty among youth, as outlined in the County’s strategic plan.

The Discovery Initiative Cycle is a new funding cycle for the Children’s Service Fund. The introduction of this funding cycle is a component of the Fund’s strategy to spend down its fund balance. Another $5 million funding cycle will be kicked-off late July 2014. It is forecasted that the Fund balance will be at the reserve level of $20 million by the end of 2017.

“Allocating funds for innovation is a further example of the Children’s Service Fund establishing itself as a national leader in developing an integrated system of care utilizing public funds. Awarding funds for innovation is a forward-thinking idea and has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the provider community,” stated Executive Director Julie Leicht.

Under the Discovery Initiative Cycle, agencies could apply for funding in one of three categories: proposing a new idea for a mental health and substance abuse program and then developing a test pilot program; adaptation of an existing promising practice or evidence-based practice; and evaluating the impact of an existing strategy to determine effectiveness. All three approaches will be evaluated for impact by a third party.

The first step of the Discovery Initiative Cycle involved submitting a letter of intent (LOI) outlining the idea and approach. Eighty two agencies submitted letters of intent. After a vetting process, the board asked 41 agencies to submit full proposals. The 41 were then narrowed to 24 successful proposals, representing eight new agencies to the Fund.

Successful awards include a proposal by Bridgeway Behavioral Health to develop a smart phone application for youth transitioning out of substance abuse treatment. The mobile application will focus on keeping clients engaged in their recovery by utilizing relapse prevention methods within a serious gaming framework.

St. Louis ARC will receive funding to embed a qualified early intervention specialist in childhood centers or day cares in the Normandy school district. The mental health specialist will screen pre-school youth, provide consultation and refer them to CSF partner agencies for treatment.

The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction (NCADA) will receive funds to pilot a program that will help bridge the gap between substance abuse assessment for the youth and the onset of treatment. A frequent impediment to receiving substance abuse treatment is the wait time. It is estimated that 40% of those waiting for treatment drop off the wait list after two weeks. By providing an interim period of support and mentoring to both teens and their families, it is believed that the youth will motivated to stay sober until they are placed in a treatment program.

In November 2008, St. Louis County passed a ballot measure which created a community children’s service fund to provide mental health and substance abuse services for children, 19 years and under in St. Louis County. As defined by state statute, the funds can be utilized in the following 10 service areas: crisis intervention services; home and community-based counseling services; individual, group and family counseling services; outpatient psychiatry services; outpatient substance abuse treatment; respite care services; school-based prevention services; services to unwed and pregnant teens; temporary shelter services; and transitional living services.

To access CSF services, contact the 24- hour Youth Connection Helpline, 314-628-2929 or
1-877-928-2929. To learn more, visit