Logo for Children's Service Fund
Logo for Children's Service Fund

Our History.

Starting in 2005 and continuing over the next couple of years, many communities across Missouri experienced reduced funding in mental and behavioral health and substance use treatment services for children and youth due to budget cuts at the state and federal level. Recognizing the needs of kids and families in St. Louis County, a coalition of committed local nonprofit agencies and community supporters decided to address the growing problem.
This is an image of a boy flying a colorful kite.

Putting St. Louis County Children First Since 2008.

An independent needs assessment was commissioned, which provided the data St. Louis County voters needed to support the initiative. Using Missouri State Statutes RSMo 67.1775 and 210.861, which allowed local communities to create a community children’s service fund for 10 specific behavioral health service areas through a referendum, the St. Louis County Putting Kids First Campaign was launched in 2008.

Putting Kids First, also known as Proposition 1, passed on November 4, 2008, with approval from a resounding 62 percent of St. Louis County voters.

Today, St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund (CSF) is the largest children’s service fund in the state of Missouri, generating approximately $52 million annually through a quarter-cent sales tax.

Our Timeline.


Missouri residents identify the need for mental health and substance use prevention services for children and youth. Missouri law, statue 67.1775, authorizes the use of local sales tax to establish a children’s service fund.


Members of St. Louis County nonprofit community joined together to create the Putting Kids First Campaign

November 2008

Proposition 1, known as Putting Kids First, is approved by 62% vote, creating the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund and designating a quarter-cent sales tax to be put towards children’s mental and behavioral health and substance use prevention and intervention services.


County Executive Charlie Dooley appoints the CSF Board of Directors.

Michael Yarbrough elected as the first CSF Board Chair In October.

Catherine Tansey appointed as executive director.

CSF assembles it’s team.


CSF offices open

First Core Funding Cycle Allocation, distributing $35 million to 44 agencies over 18 months.


Youth Connection Helpline established

Safe Place Program established

Terry Crow Is elected CSF Board Chair In April


Second round of Core Funding – distributing $38 million to 48 agencies over 2 year period

Entered partnership with Nine Network to launch Youth At-Risk initiative, a televised town hall

Julie Leicht appointed as interim executive director


Over $44 million allocated to 54 agencies

Youth Needs Assessment completed


CSF Board authorized a 2-year funding cycle for Core

Core Funding Cycle allocates $97 million to 60 agencies over 2 years

CSF Board adopts a standardized unit-rate structure for agency reimbursement

CSF adds two new funding opportunities

Discovery Funding Cycle: $4.4 million to 25 agencies for 1 year period

Launch Funding Cycle: $1.5 million to 8 agencies for 1 year period

CSF forms an Outreach Council, a CSF led group made up of communication and outreach coordinators from partner agencies, government entities, and local nonprofits, that meet quarterly. The focus of the Council Is to discuss trends, challenges, and best practices for how to engage the community and deliver messaging regarding agencies and their programming.


Connie J. Cunningham appointed as executive director
CSF adds new funding opportunity: Expanding Opportunities $1,015,753 to 14 agencies for 1 year period


Core Funding Opportunity allocates $102 million to 61 agencies over 2 years

CSF Board approves $1.5 million for Innovation Funding Opportunity for 18 month period.


Youth Needs Assessment completed

CSF hosts School to Prison Pipeline Symposium


Patti Kelley elected as CSF Board Chair In January

Emily Koenig appointed acting executive director

Core Funding Opportunity allocates $85 million to 62 agencies for 2 year period

Strategic Planning Begins

CSF forms the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) as a voluntary committee comprised of professionals In the community that have experience and expertise In children’s behavioral health services.


CSF Board approves moving Core from a calendar year schedule to align with school district’s academic calendar – 2018-19 Core becomes a 2.5 year allocation period

Dr. Randall Sterkel elected as CSF Board Chair In September

CSF forms the School Based Advisory Committee (SBAC), which Is comprised of representatives of St. Louis County school district, CSF partner agencies that provide school-based services, and other educational stakeholders.


CSF celebrates 10-year anniversary and has allocated over $400 million

3 Year Strategic Plan implemented

Core Funding Opportunity allocates $108 million to 64 agencies for 2.5 year period

COVID-19, a global pandemic hits St. Louis and causes CSF to shift focus from strategic plan to assisting partners and residents with immediate needs

CSF Board approves Emergency Funding In response to needs created by the Covid-19 global pandemic and provides $250,000 to 20 agencies to address Immediate needs

CSF assists St. Louis County with distribution of $30 CARES Act funds

CSF implements new grants management system as part of the strategic plan


CSF Board approves a second round of Emergency Funding In response to the ongoing global pandemic, allocating $1 million to 17 agencies for a 1-year period

CSF Board approves new funding cycle: Grassroots Funding Opportunity, which allocates $2 million to 19 agencies for 2 year period

CSF holds first virtual Suicide Prevention Training and has over 200 participants

CSF Board approves extending 2020-2022 Core contracts to 2023 as a response to barriers experienced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

CSF Board approves 3-year Core funding cycles

CSF enters in partnership with St. Louis County Public Library for Community Resource Initiative, which embeds social workers at 5 library branches.

Emily Koenig appointed executive director


CSF Board approves second Grassroots Funding Opportunity beginning In 2023 and lasting for a 2 year period.

CSF holds second virtual suicide prevention training and has over 300 participants.

CSF launches new brand In alignment with the strategic plan

CSF launches new website In alignment with the strategic plan

CSF embarks on equity Initiative In alignment with the strategic plan

CSF hosts WellEducator STL Conference and Fair to support educators and support staff in the region

Since our first allocation in 2010, we have invested more than $550 million in local nonprofits and governmental agencies to provide behavioral health services for children and youth in St. Louis County. Through collaboration and partnership, we at CSF work to ensure kids have the support and resources they need to achieve their potential.