A legacy of healthcare collaboration
The Coalition’s roots can be traced to a few healthcare professionals in the early 1980s who were concerned about unacceptable health indicators of lower income women and their infants.
What began as a small group of individuals concerned about the health of vulnerable populations has now grown to a metropolitan partnership of more than 200 agencies and 350 members.
Our driving focus has always been to reach those most vulnerable in the community and today the Coalition’s mission continues to guide us as we work to improve healthcare for area mothers, families and their children.
Following the publication of a report on key problems for Missouri’s mothers and children by the Department of Social Services Division of Health, a local group of healthcare professionals formed the Maternal and Child Health Planning Group led by Richard Biery, M.D. from the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department. This group later became The Kansas City Maternal and Child Health Coalition.
By the late 80s the Coalition’s membership included representatives from more than 40 organizations. The Coalition was instrumental in obtaining state funding to expand prenatal services for lower income women and in developing a metro-wide database for program planning for each agency and the entire community.
By the mid 90s, the Maternal and Child Health Coalition (MCHC) had grown to include representatives from more than 70 area organizations. We also received a substantial operating grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and hired Susan McLoughlin, RN, MSN, CPNP, as Executive Director to manage the agency’s volunteer efforts and operations. Also, the Coalition moved the offices to the Institute for Human Development (IHD), a center affiliated with the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
Recognizing our success in coordinating immunization efforts for several area groups, the Coalition was designated the host organization for the Mid America Immunization Coalition in 1995. In that same year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated MCHC as one of 13 partner sites for teen pregnancy prevention programs.
By 1996, the Coalition’s membership had become multi-disciplinary as it grew to more than 100 area organizations. Local Rotary Clubs helped to fund immunization efforts while the Coalition received a $200,000 grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to assess and coordinate prenatal and infant services and injury prevention including child abuse prevention services.
In 1997, in collaboration with the Heart of America United Way, the Coalition received a $7.6 million four-year Healthy Start grant to reduce Infant Mortality in greater Kansas City. The Kansas City Healthy Start program continues today and has a strong presence and service record in the bi-state area.
Also, the group received a three-year grant from the Missouri Department of Health funded through the National Center for Disease Control and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase immunization sites in public housing.
In 1999, the Coalition took on a coordinating role for childhood injury prevention efforts in the community.
The Coalition became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Missouri and relocated its offices to the Rivergate Building at 600 Broadway, downtown Kansas City.
The MCHC Board of Directors identified fundraising, visibility and legislative priorities as the primary focus areas for the Coalition and approved a plan for marketing the Coalition and its services in the bi-state area.
The Board Development Committee focused efforts on gaining support from the partner agencies for an organization membership program while additional program and administrative staff were hired to move the Coalition’s work forward.
The Kansas City Star continued to publish information about our monthly Bee Wise Mondays.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded MCHC a three-year PEP grant to conduct Kid Power KC, a childhood obesity prevention project for tweens. MCHC also led the creation of the Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) program.
The Kansas City Healthy Start program served and provided care coordination to 599 women and screened 142 women for depression in partnership with Truman Medical Center’s Behavioral Health network.
During this time, a fund development plan—including potential funding sources to support MCHC initiatives—was developed to guide the Coalition’s sustainability efforts. The Coalition hired its first Development Director and continued to attract several grants from various government, public and private sources. The funds were used for programs and operations and for hosting several community wide events that provided education, services and raised public awareness about health issues.
In 2005, MCHC was designated as the home of Safe Kids Metro KC Coalition. MCHC also held its first annual Celebrating Healthy Motherhood Luncheon with more than 200 people in attendance.
In order to accommodate the larger staff, MCHC evaluated several properties and selected space at 6400 Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri where the office is still located today. During this time, the Coalition identified major goals for the three-year strategic plan focusing on financial stability, building a diverse and engaged membership and enhancing MCHC’s ability to influence public policy on issues relevant to its mission.
The Weighing In Collaborative’s special project Eat Small Campaign received funding from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to continue the public awareness and education campaign delivering portion control messages to tweens.
In 2007, the MCHC Board of Directors officially changed the name of the Coalition from Maternal and Child Health Coalition to Mother & Child Health Coalition and a new identity was developed. In addition, a new program called Dedicated Dads was initiated to connect area fathers and male figures to programs and services to help them be better role models for their families.
The Coalition partnered with See Hear Design to revise and complete its website with new features and also created a style guide to help market the MCHC brand to its members, donors and the bi-state community. A new organization brochure and a corporate leave-behind booklet were created to inform the community about opportunities to get more involved with the Coalition and its programs.
250 mothers and 213 infants received case management services in the Kansas City Healthy Start program in fiscal year 2007-2008.
The Eat Small media campaign reached the metro through newspapers, billboards, bus ads and local television ads including KCPT and many Time Warner Cable stations. An estimated 94,160 kids ages 6 to 11 were exposed to these ads each time for a total of 20,526,880 exposures.
Eat Small educational materials reached more than 6,000 local students in 13 school districts with new handouts and teaching kits for teachers and school nurses.
KID POWER, a project under Weighing In Collaborative, completed its final year of a three-year Physical Education Program (PEP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2007, the program served 50 sites and 1,955 students in the metro area. During the three-year grant, KID POWER served 138 sites and 5,090 students.
The Coalition’s 2008 luncheon was attended by 460 people and raised more than $52,000 in revenue.