At risk kids get money for programs

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COLUMBIA - On Thursday, the Boone County Commission could vote to provide $4.3 million in funding to help improve the lives of at-risk kids. 

The $4.3 million comes from the Boone County Children's Service Fund. The fund was created two years ago after Boone Proposition 1 passed. All indications from the service fund are the Boone County Commission will approve the 18 different programs. The inspiration behind the fund, is to improve the lives of children, youth and families in Boone County by strategically investing in services for children and families in need. 

Members of the Children's Service Fund recommend the 18 programs on Tuesday. The 18 programs were chosen from 58 different proposals. Thanks to the passage of Boone Proposition 1, the Service has $6.5 million annually to invest in programs. This is the first time these programs recommended by the Boone County Children's Service Fund will head to a vote. The fund chose the programs to help kids under 19 years old in a variety of ways.

Most of the money is for childrens' mental health programs. This includes a $1.1 million contract to train teachers how to better handle mental health issues. Other money goes toward mental health screening costs, helping kids in protective custody and other situations. 

The programs recommended were put into two categories: Purchase of service and pilot programs. Purchase of service means these programs already exist but would receive the funding to help with the cost. Pilot programs are new programs to help kids in need. One such program is the CHA Low Income Services which hopes to establish helping home connections. The program would allow CHA to meet with kids and their parents, helping out with potential problems in their homes. CHA said the funds would allow the service to be provided for free to participants in the program. The program would partner CHA with groups like Big Brothers, Big Sisters to help make a deeper more meaningful connection with the kids. 

Right now CHA has an after school program for kids and provides help with homework and a hot meal; however, CHA said it can't help focus on problems which may be in the household. 

These programs may just be the beginning. The Children's Service Fund hopes to start looking at programs as early as next spring.