From Our Leadership
When caring individuals discuss child well-being, the conversation most often focuses on how to provide services and supports that are external to families. What we as a community tend to overlook is the critical fact that children grow up in families. And while there is a shared belief that every child should have the opportunity to achieve success as an adult, for those in families where inequity and disproportionality occur we see a significant increase of risk to children’s well-being.
Today, many community strategies exist to promote child well-being, strategies that Voices is able to utilize in its advocacy for children who enter into child protection: facilitating resources and services that the law says these children are entitled to receive, monitoring all aspects of the case plans and court orders to ensure that all expectations are carried out, and updating the courts on developments with agencies, family members and, most importantly, the child.
The scope of challenges we face in promoting child well-being, both nationally and locally, is great. A few sobering statistics: nearly 700,000 children in the United States experience abuse or neglect each year. In the Greater St. Louis community alone, an astonishing 127,000 children – 25% of the region’s children – live in zip codes where risks to their well-being are severe. An additional 66,000 children live in areas where risks to their well-being are high. This translates into 1 out of every 3 children in the St. Louis region being at significant risk, with 1 in 5 children living in families with incomes that fall below the poverty line. Poverty levels among Black and Hispanic children, children living in single-mother families, and children under five living in the St. Louis community are even higher. Sadly, between St. Louis City and County almost 2,000 children are in foster care at any given time, having been removed from their families due to abuse and/or neglect.
When families break down and abuse or neglect occurs, Voices for Children is there to stand in the gap, advocating for those children who find themselves in the foster care system through no fault of their own. But there is growing community awareness that strengthening families is the best way to prevent child abuse and neglect in the first place. So while Voices advocates for children in the courts and communities, we also advocate for policies, programs, and investments that aim to strengthen families in our region, particularly the most vulnerable.
The information to the right provides details about our mission and program and is meant to help our supporters better understand our work. With your continued and growing financial and volunteer support Voices will be able to advocate for more and more children in protective custody so that they end up in a place of well-being.
Thank you for making an investment in the future and helping bring a brighter tomorrow to those children we serve.