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U.S. Senator Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond recently congratulated the Missouri Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) for twenty-five years of service and leadership in helping Missouri’s children and families and preventing child abuse and neglect.

A news conference hosted by St. Louis Children’s Hospital brought together healthcare professionals, community leaders, CTF Board members and child advocates to highlight April as child abuse and neglect prevention month.

“It will take all of us, the Trust Fund, hospitals, service providers and elected officials working together to continue to make progress,” said Bond.  “I am proud of our legacy, and I look forward to continuing our strong partnership for children,” Bond stated.

As a former Governor of Missouri, Senator Bond helped create CTF in 1983 by signing the original legistation into law to establish the organization.  Over the past 25 years, CTF, as Missouri’s foundation for child abuse prevention, has awarded more than $35 million in child abuse prevention grants to community-based organizations throughout the state.  Among others, the grants help to develop effective and innovative home visitation programs for at-risk families, mentoring programs for teen mothers, safe crib programs, and respite care programs for families in crisis.  CTF also provides public education and awareness campaigns that address Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) prevention, safe sleep environments, positive parenting, the prevention of emotional abuse and neglect, and children being safe in or around vehicles.

The concept of a Children’s Trust Fund originated with the late Dr. Ray E. Helfer, an internationally recognized pediatrician from Michigan in the field of child abuse and prevention. Dr. Helfer noted that just as there are trust funds to maintain our nation’s highways and wildlife, there should be trust funds to care for our most precious resource, our children.

His idea quickly became the catalyst for the nationwide network of children’s trust and prevention funds in existence today.  In 1983, Missouri became one of the first ten CTF’s in the nation due to the efforts of the Missouri General Assembly and then Governor Bond.  Legislation enacted that year also paved the way for citizens to donate to CTF through the Missouri state income tax checkoff, the first check-off program in the state.

Drawing upon donations from the tax check-off, CTF awarded its first prevention grants to community organizations in 1985.  Fifteen initial grants were awarded totaling $50,755.  During the current Fiscal Year 2008 alone, CTF is supporting 110 grantees statewide by distributing $2.9 million in prevention programming and public education, all with non-general revenue funding.