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Federal grant helps LAUNCH improvements in children's health

University of Missouri School of Medicine leaders joined state, community and university partners on Jan. 25 to announce a new federal grant to improve children's health. The grant project will serve more than 1,200 children and their families by enhancing physical, emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral development services.

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health) will serve children ages birth to 8 years old and their families. Funding for LAUNCH was awarded to Laine Young-Walker, MD, the school's chief of child and adolescent psychiatry, by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The award makes $3.25 million available over the next five years to foster the healthy development and wellness of children by preparing them to excel in school and beyond.

"Our selection as one of six 2010 recipients for this highly competitive grant demonstrates the foresight of our public health partners and their dedication to improving the lives of children and families," Young-Walker said. "Our goal is to now create a more coordinated support system that helps children thrive in safe and supportive environments. When our children enter school, we want all of them ready to learn and able to succeed."

LAUNCH will improve collaboration across systems that serve children, expand access to high-quality care and evidence-based programs for children and their families, and raise awareness about childhood wellness through public education and workforce development. Project partners will directly serve families through home visits, developmental assessments, integration of behavioral health into primary care, mental health consultation, family strengthening and parenting skills training, and substance abuse prevention.

"I am proud that MU psychiatrists are providing leadership for this project and that the efforts of Project LAUNCH will support access to higher quality care and evidence-based programs for young children and their families," said John Lauriello, MD, Chancellor's Chair of Excellence in Psychiatry at the medical school and the center's medical director. "By working together with state and community partners, we will improve and expand access to a wide variety of services."

During the first year of the grant project, collaborators will evaluate needs and develop a strategic plan. A LAUNCH council on child wellness will lead and coordinate the investigation and outreach efforts.


Contact: Natalie Fieleke
University of Missouri School of Medicine

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