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Federal Grant Helps LAUNCH Improvements in Children's Health

Award makes $3.25 million available to unite and enhance services for children and families

University of Missouri School of Medicine leaders joined state, community and university partners on Jan. 25 in announcing a new federal grant to improve children's health. The grant project will serve more than 1,200 children and their families by enhancing physical, emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral development services.

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health) will serve children ages birth to 8 years old and their families in Boone County. Funding for LAUNCH was awarded to Laine Young-Walker, MD, the school's chief of child and adolescent psychiatry, by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The award makes $3.25 million available over the next five years to foster the healthy development and wellness of Boone County children by preparing them to excel in school and beyond.

"Our selection as one of six 2010 recipients for this highly competitive grant demonstrates the foresight of public health partners in Boone County and their dedication to improving the lives of children and families," Young-Walker said. "Our goal is to now create a more coordinated support system that helps children thrive in safe and supportive environments. When our children enter school, we want all of them ready to learn and able to succeed."

LAUNCH will improve collaboration across systems that serve children, expand access to high-quality care and evidence-based programs for children and their families, and raise awareness about childhood wellness through public education and workforce development. Project partners will directly serve families through home visits, developmental assessments, integration of behavioral health into primary care, mental health consultation, family strengthening and parenting skills training, and substance abuse prevention.

"I am proud that MU psychiatrists are providing leadership for this project and that the efforts of Boone County Project LAUNCH will support access to higher quality care and evidence-based programs for young children and their families," said John Lauriello, MD, Chancellor's Chair of Excellence in Psychiatry at the medical school and the center's medical director. "By working together with state and community partners, we will improve and expand access to a wide variety of services."

During the first year of the grant project, collaborators will evaluate needs in Boone County and develop a strategic plan. A LAUNCH council on child wellness will lead and coordinate the investigation and outreach efforts.

Key council partners include the MU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Columbia Public Schools Early Childhood Special Education and Parents as Teachers programs, Head Start, Boone County Health Department, Family Counseling Center, MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, MU School of Medicine Department of Child Health, Burrell Behavioral Health, MU Child Development Lab, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missouri Prevention Center, Missouri First Steps, MU Center for Family Policy and Research, Child Care Aware of Missouri, Boone County Children's Division, Rainbow House, Family Health Center, Parent Link, and Central Missouri Community Action.

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The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funding will provide up to $650,000 annually over the next five years. More information about the federal grant program is available at

MU Health Magazine


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