On Tuesday’s ballot, Boone county residents will decide on whether to introduce a Community Children’s Service Fund to improve mental health and shelter services for youth under 19 years of age.
Proposition 1 will introduce a quarter cent sales tax to address problems outlined in an MU Institute of Public Policy assessment of local mental health services for children. The Boone County Commission will choose nine local residents to be on the Board of Directors. The Putting Kids First campaign gathered more than 8,000 signatures to urge the Boone County Commission to put the issue on the ballot.
Coordinator Christine says the consistent need for these services has just not been communicated well to the public: “There are just greater stresses on kids these days in terms of social media, in terms of drug and alcohol influences, those kinds of things.”
The assessment shows that in 2010, children, youth and families were turned away from services more than 2,900 times. The highest number of under-served youths were teenage parents. Columbia’s Rainbow House, an emergency and homeless youth shelter, will be one of the organizations that will benefit from the funding.
Its Homeless Youth Program Director Claire Slama hopes to see more mental health accessibility for its children: “Right now it’s really difficult to find services for homeless youth who have more severe mental health concerns. Also, a lot of them don’t have insurance so it’s really difficult to find those services.”
The MU Institute of Public Policy reports that between 2004 to 2008, the percentage of Boone county children covered under MO Healthnet for Kids has been dropping. Boone county residents will vote on Proposition 1 on election day, Tuesday, November 6th.