The Risk of Not Investing in Prevention Services for Kids

It’s probably safe to say that most adults want kids to have good mental health and to avoid substance abuse. Because of a lot of factors out of their control, some kids and teens need the outside help of prevention services to navigate those waters and achieve those good outcomes. But what happens when kids don’t have access to these types of programs? What happens when prevention services aren’t adequately funded? 

What are Prevention Services for Kids and Teens?

The CSF invests in prevention services for the kids and teens of Jackson County. That means we’re supporting local organizations that decrease the risk of substance abuse and the likelihood of developing mental health issues through programs that help kids:

  • learn coping skills
  • strengthen relationships
  • build social-emotional skills

In addition, these programs help address the various determinants of mental health problems with the goal of preventing them from developing.

The programs we fund are varied, and are backed by solid research. Studies repeatedly show:

  • Meeting a child’s physical, psychological, and social needs supports brain development, the ability to regulate emotions, and the development of higher cognitive functions.
  • Young people are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, when they have a variety of opportunities for positive activities.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that eliminating childhood adversities associated with unstable family functioning could prevent nearly half of childhood-onset mental disorders.

What Happens if Prevention Services for Kids are Underfunded?

Since the inception of the CSF, we’ve been able to help support the mental health and social-emotional well-being of 64,000 kids. But Jackson County is home to about 175,000 kids under the age of 19. Many of those children and adolescents we haven’t been able to support desperately need the kind of outside support prevention services can offer.

  • Trauma, inadequate care, and neglect negatively impact academic growth, physical resilience, and psychosocial skills.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
  • 1 in 5 young people experience clinical mental health problems before the age of 25 – and half of them are symptomatic by the age of 14.
  • Anxiety and mood disorders in young people mean a much higher risk of substance abuse.

Not adequately funding prevention services for children and adolescents means that more of them will continue to struggle, suffer, and face lifelong problems that could have been avoided. It means more Jackson County kids — our kids — won’t be able to thrive the way they should.

Prevention Services Funded by The CSF

You can see on this map how many organizations in every Jackson County zip code we fund in each of the 10 service areas. Some areas have quite a few prevention services – and some have only 1 or none at all. How does your zip code stack up?

Here’s a highlight of some of the different kinds of prevention services we fund:

Lee’s Summit CARES — Community Approach to Youth Mental Health ($100,000)

  • Lee’s Summit CARES catalyzes community organizations and businesses to elevate the issue of youth mental health well-being so that teens and families know they’re not alone.
  • The Youth Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Task Force sponsors events that provide lessons on mental well-being that educate young people on coping skills, including sleep, healthy eathing, mindfulness, stress management, and more.
  • “I Can Relate” is a mental health podcast about teens, by teens, and for teens. Hosts and guests talk about issues like social media use, grief and loss, empathy, dating, diversity, and how to keep going when life is tough.

Cornerstones of Care — School, Home, & Community-Based Mental Health Prevention & Intervention Services ($250,000)

  • Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a nationally-recognized, evidence-based program that serves adolescents ages 11–18 and their families. Provided at no cost, the program provides in-home and in-community support services to help youth and children at high-risk work through their most urgent issues alongside their families. They learn the skills they need to rebuild relationships and remain safely together as a family unit.
  • Through a partnership with the Grandview School District, Cornerstones of Care offers In-school bi-annual screening and mental and behavior health support for kids in preschool, elementary and middle school. They’re able to identify students who need the most social-emotional support, provide counseling to them and their families, advising their teachers as well.

Center for Conflict Resolution — Breaking Cycles of Violence ($104,300)

  • CCR works with children and youth to teach skills that prevent normal conflict from becoming verbally or physically violent. They learn bullying prevention, conflict resolution, anger management, and leadership skills.
  • In 2021, 12 local schools benefited from conflict resolution and restorative practices training; 88 successful mediation and coaching sessions were conducted with students in schools.
  • All processes used at CCR are based on the principles of restorative justice, which state that people are capable of solving problems in their lives when they are supported by respectful processes that encourage responsibility and collaboration.

Here at the CSF, we’re proud of the work these organizations, and others like them, are doing to promote mental health in kids and prevent so many of the devastating outcomes that can occur when kids don’t have the support they need. Every child, in every zip code, deserves the chance to thrive.


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