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It started when St. Charles County passed a special tax for children and youth services in 2004. Jefferson County, Lincoln County, and the City of St. Louis passed their own taxes for kids in 2006. Then, this November, Franklin County and St. Louis County joined the parade.
Now every major Missouri county in the St. Louis region has dedicated revenues for children and families in need. Combined across these six jurisdictions, over seventy five million dollars a year will be invested in our most precious assets, our young people. These funds are invested through the area’s many extraordinary social service nonprofits that have proven programs that achieve tremendous results.
These funds can will make a major difference. Growing up in the twenty-first century is a hazardous process. Child abuse, mental illness, drugs and alcohol, family stress—these are real threats that must be addressed. The region can now treat all those who are currently suffering and get them back on track. Beyond that, it can mount early detection and other prevention programs that will keep small issues from becoming large problems.
These children and youth services campaigns used “putting kids first” as their slogan. In this season of spiritual rebirth, at a time when we reflect about our future and our responsibilities, the St. Louis region can rejoice that it is indeed putting kids first.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.