Breaking News
More () »

St. Louis nonprofit creates new campus for children's trauma therapy services

One in seven children has experienced abuse and/or neglect in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — FamilyForward, a St. Louis-based nonprofit, has created a new campus in north St. Louis County.

The organization said the $6.5 million campus will be the largest center for developmental trauma therapy services in the region.

"FamilyForward helps kids who have trauma experiences early in life and families who may struggle to cope with the behaviors of the kids," Chief Development Officer Jessica Dederer said.

FamilyForward started in 2017, after two of St. Louis non-profits, Children’s Home Society of Missouri and Family Resource Center, merged. 

In the last year, the agency has been able to grow.

The latest expansion has two new buildings spanning 9.5 acres and it's located at the intersection of North Lindbergh and Dorsett. 

In September, the Developmental Trauma Center opened and the Early Childhood Center with a therapeutic preschool opened this month.

"We knew we could do it best if we integrated all of our services into one campus," Dederer said.

The Developmental Trauma Center focuses on kids 6 to 19 years old. 

The Early Childhood Center works with children 3 to 5 years old.

Both places offer therapy, education classes for parents and even occupational therapy. 

Dederer said they wanted to position themselves in a better space to serve. 

"Looking on this area, we were looking at something easily accessible for clients in the community and in their communities where they don't have to travel to a different location," she said. 

Dederer said with the pandemic, they've seen more cases of abuse and neglect.

She said with this growth, FamilyForward will be able to serve 3,000 children with complex trauma by 2025.

This would double the numbers from 2021.

Some statistics from FamilyForward:

  • One in seven children has experienced abuse and/or neglect in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • In 2021, 16,984 children in the St. Louis area were reported to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, marking a nearly 24% increase from 2019 reports according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

The campus project was funded in several ways.

FamilyForward was one of seven St. Louis County organizations whose proposal was chosen for ARPA funding. The proposal could provide up to $800,000 in funds from St. Louis County.

This is in addition to $1.2 million from State ARPA funding, and $35,060 from the Children’s and Community Resource Board of St. Charles County.

The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation also issued a $1.25 million challenge grant, which would kick in when FamilyForward raised $2.55 million in private funding. The agency just achieved that goal in January.

"I think what we want most is for people to know that we are here and we're a resource," Dederer said.

If you'd like to get involved by volunteering or want to donate, click here

In January, FamilyForward is hosting trauma-informed training for occupational therapy practitioners. 

Training is free and open to all levels of trauma understanding. Four hours continuing education certificate will be provided at the end of the course.

Participation is limited to the first 24 registrants.

Click here for details.

Before You Leave, Check This Out