Skip to content

FamilyForward renovating new developmental trauma center for St. Louis region

FamilyForward, a St. Louis-based nonprofit and leader in providing evidence-based solutions that address developmental trauma, is nearing completion of a $6.5 million Developmental Trauma Center campus to broaden its impact for children and families in the St. Louis region.

The organization shared:

Trauma impacts all communities, and St. Louis is no exception. The pandemic has increased the need for innovative health and human service providers like FamilyForward.

One in seven children has experienced abuse and/or neglect in the past year according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In 2021, 16,984 children in the St. Louis area were reported to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, marking a nearly 24 percent increase from 2019 reports according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

“Trauma is broader and more common than people realize,” says FamilyForward Chief Program Officer Sharon Skidmore Stern, LCSW. “It is a cascade of physical and emotional responses to terrible events, whether it’s abuse, neglect, a natural disaster, or other intense occurrences. At FamilyForward we focus on understanding the impact of developmental trauma on kids and supporting families in their healing journey.”

The campus will be the largest center for developmental trauma therapy services in the region, spanning 9.5 acres with two buildings totaling 41,778 square feet. The site is located at the intersection of North Lindbergh and Dorsett, making it highly accessible for families throughout the area. The Developmental Trauma Center opened in September, and the Early Childhood Center with a therapeutic preschool and other early intervention services will open in January 2023. To help meet the growing need for services, FamilyForward is adding occupational therapy services and research and training in early 2023.

The expansive facilities will enable FamilyForward to serve 3,000 children and families with complex trauma by 2025, almost twice as many people as it served last year. There will be ample therapeutic spaces for FamilyForward’s team to comfortably carry out services rooted in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT)TM, a nationally recognized trauma-informed care model that focuses on shaping individualized interventions based on a child’s history and current functioning. The Training and Research Institute will serve as a regional hub for understanding and treating childhood trauma.

The campus project will be funded through a variety of avenues. Most recently, FamilyForward was one of seven St. Louis County organizations whose proposal was chosen for ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding. The proposal could provide up to $800,000 in funds from the County. This is in addition to $1.2 million from State ARPA funding, and $35,060 from the CCRB (Children’s and Community Resource Board of St. Charles County). The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation has issued a $1.25 million challenge grant when FamilyForward raises $2.55 million in private funding.

“We could not be more excited to expand our reach across the St. Louis region and impact the lives of children and families in need of trauma support,” says FamilyForward Chief Executive Officer Karen Nolte. “It’s important that we have the resources available to us to address as many of these instances of trauma as possible so that we can heal and move forward as a community.”

About FamilyForward

FamilyForward is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves children and families in the St. Louis region that have been significantly impacted by developmental trauma. Formed from a merger of two long-standing reputable organizations, Children’s Home Society of Missouri and Family Resource Center, FamilyForward utilizes a comprehensive and respectful approach to understanding child development and the impact of significant childhood trauma. Agency services include psychological and trauma assessments, caregiver education and training, home visiting and therapy sessions, foster care and adoption support, and early childhood and therapeutic preschool programming. FamilyForward is a Better Business Bureau-accredited charity and a proud member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Visit for additional information.

About ARPA

Missouri received approximately $2.7 billion in State Fiscal Recovery Funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (2021). Signed into law on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included funding for states and local governments to mitigate the negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic (aka “State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds”). (Source:

Leave a Comment