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The Department of Social Services (DSS) has announced that eight state early childhood facilities have been selected as pilot sites for the national Strengthening Families Initiative (SFI).  Missouri is one of only seven states selected by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to participate in this new initiative geared toward preventing child abuse and neglect by utilizing early childhood education and child care programs as a vehicle for systematic prevention efforts. 

"When both parents must work, families need safe, quality care for their children,” said Paula Neese, Children’s Division Director.  “This new program will help early childhood facilities offer exemplary care for our youngest citizens and help families keep their children safe and better prepared to succeed in school."

Approximately 70 percent of all children under age six are in out-of-home care for at least part of the day. As a result it is increasingly important to educate early childhood professionals on the roles they play in protecting and nurturing young children and promoting their social and emotional development.

DSS’ Children’s Division, the Children’s Trust Fund and several other early childhood and child welfare partners have selected the eight sites and will assist them in becoming SFI exemplary programs by increasing parental involvement and creating a family support system.  The eight facilities are: 

  • Essential Care, Kansas City
  • Operation Breakthrough, Kansas City
  • Early Learning Center, Inc., Oran
  • Children’s Therapy, Sedalia
  • Aunt Martha’s, Sedalia
  • Lasting Impressions, Smithton
  • Grant Training Center/OACAC Head Start, Springfield
  • South Side Day Nursery, St. Louis