By Wendell E. Kimbrough, ARCHS' Chief Executive Officer
The recent report issued by the Ferguson Commission must become a unifying moment for St. Louis' education and not-for-profit communities. The 198-page document covers a variety of recommendations for the justice system, social programs, and community organizations. A major pillar of those recommendations covers the needs of our region's most vulnerable children.
Upon receiving the report, ARCHS' team conducted an audit of how our current programming supports the recommendations outlined. I was not surprised to discover that ARCHS is actively engaged in the four regional themes framed: Justice for All; Youth at the Center; Opportunity to Thrive; and Racial Equality.
ARCHS and our education and not-for-profit colleagues have been at the forefront of advancing these themes for many years.
ARCHS annually improves the lives of more than 90,000 African Americans living in the region's highest concentrations of poverty. This work represents a multi-generational change that starts with giving children the best possible start – quality pre-school care, extra meals during the summer, glasses for improved vision in the classroom, and safe after-school programming that engages both mind and body.
Our reach extends beyond children through adulthood; we provide parent coaching, job training, life skills building, physical fitness, and much more. Our lifelong learning approach addresses core issues facing our region including reducing cycles of poverty and improving educational attainment. This level of positive impact on St. Louis' at-risk families is achieved through an annual $16.5 million dollar investment in partnership with 200 education and social service organizations.
In August 2015, Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) announced that ARCHS is part of a new push to help increase awareness among those who remain uninsured. This outreach comes at a critical time, with the next annual enrollment period in the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace set to start on November 1 and continue through January 31.
ARCHS was selected by MFH as one of 15 organization partners in the St. Louis region for a new program – Grassroots Outreach to Maximize Enrollment (GOME). The aim of GOME is to increase enrollment by raising awareness and understanding of the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace.
"We're looking forward to our GOME partners joining the cause," said Nancy Kelley, MFH Program Director for Expanding Coverage. "These groups are trusted allies in their communities and they have the ability to break down barriers that have kept some uninsured people from getting covered in the past."
As of February of this year, 253,430 Missourians signed up for coverage through the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace, with the state ranking 9th for the total number of enrollees. That number broke the inaugural year's record by more than 100,000 people. This success is due, in large part, to the ongoing efforts of MFH's Cover Missouri Coalition and its work to educate and enroll consumers in Marketplace plans.
As part of GOME, the 15 St. Louis organizations will join with 23 other GOME grantees across the state to become members of this growing Coalition that ensures Missouri's uninsured rate continues to fall. Cover Missouri aims to reduce the state's uninsured rate to below five percent in the first five years of Affordable Care Act implementation.
On August 22, 2015 area early childhood and youth development professionals renewed required certifications and recieved updated health and safety training at ARCHS' Back to School Health and Safety Institute at Harris-Stowe State University.
Classes included: Adult, Child, Infant CPR; Basic Adult & Pediatric First Aid; Emergency Preparedness for Child Care Programs and Child Abuse Neglect; Safe Sleep; SIDS; and Shaken Baby Syndrome.
ARCHS' next training is set for October 10 and will focus on Science, Techology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM).
Kids Vision for Life-St. Louis is excited about the new school year as it rolls out its new mobile clinic van. Each year KVFL provides thousands of area students with free vision screenings and glasses. If you know of children needing vision screenings prior to the start of school, KVFL is hosting a series of back to school screenings in August 2015. Availability is limited, so please register early.
As the new school year begins, ARCHS' Health & Safety Institute is a great opportunity for early childhood and youth development professionals to renew required certifications and receive updated health and safety trainings. 2 clock hours awarded per session.
ARCHS' Health & Safety Institute
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 9 am to 1:15 pm
Harris-Stowe State University
William L. Clay Sr. Early Childhood Center
Sessions and Fees:
-Adult, Child, & Infant CPR - $25 (2 year certification)
-Basic Adult & Pediatric First Aid - $20 (2 year certification)
-Emergency Preparedness for Child Care Programs - $12.50
-Child Abuse & Neglect, Safe Sleep, SIDS, & Shaken Baby Syndrome - $12.50