A legacy of healthcare collaboration

iStock_000005787060_LargeThe 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 in 1983, 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 starting a metro-wide database for program planning for each agency and the entire community.


  • MCHC had grown to include representatives from more than 70 area organizations;
  • Received a 5-year Challenge Grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to improve the health status of women and children;
  • Hired Susan McLoughlin, RN, MSN, CPNP, as executive director;
  • Moved the offices to the Institute for Human Development (IHD), a University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, affiliated with the University of Missouri- Kansas City.
  • MOHAKCA became the fiscal agent.
  • Coalition was designated the host organization for the Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC) in 1994; 
  • Created the video “Caring for the Drug-Exposed Baby.”


  • Held the first (now annual) MAIC Immunization Symposium.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated MCHC as one of 13 partner sites for teen pregnancy prevention program planning, when the Adolescent Resource Corporation ceased programming.
  • Adopted Year 2000 Model Standards.
  • “Help Erase Hep-B” project with KC WAIT.


  • By 1996 the Coalition’s membership had grown to more than 100 area organizations and 350 individual members
  • Local Rotary Clubs helped to fund immunization efforts while the Coalition received a $200,000 grant from the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau to assess and coordinate prenatal and infant services and injury prevention including child abuse prevention services. (1996-2000)
  • Held the Cultural Competence in Perinatal Health conference.


  • 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 serves 800 families a year through outreach, care coordination and education.
  • 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 in public housing.


  • Hired Dr. Barbara Moore, first Kansas City Healthy Start director;
  • Began production of the ABC Guide (Community Resource Guide) funded by the March of Dimes.
  • KC WAIT “Plain Talk for Parents” series with YWCA and Children’s Mercy Hospital.
  • Website for mchc.net was established.
  • KC WAIT 1st annual Clergy Breakfast.
  • Hired Donna Miller, first Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC) director.
  • “Get Hep B” project (MERCK Vaccine) immunized 9,000 6-graders.
  • Hired Gail Vertz, KCHS grants manager.
  • Public Housing Immunization Project, Health Ambassadors, and the First Day of School Immunization Initiative


  • The Coalition was asked to assume a coordinating role for childhood injury prevention efforts in the community.
  • “Atencion!” Latino/Hispanic Diversity Conference.
  • Healthy Start sites: University of Kansas, Project EAGLE, YWCA, Wyandotte County Health Department, Cabot Westside Clinic, Children’s Mercy Hospital Paseo, KCMO Health Department, Samuel U Rodgers Health Clinic. (Barbara Moore, Gail Vertz.)
  • Hired Anne Biswell, administrative assistant.


  • The Maternal and Child Health Coalition of Greater Kansas City, Inc. became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Missouri and relocated its offices to the Rivergate Building at 600 Broadway, downtown Kansas City, “incubating” under the Center for Management Assistance (CMA).
  • Hired Sharon Turner, KC WAIT project director, Julia Vargas, youth development specialist.
  • The MCHC Board of Directors identified fundraising, visibility and legislative priorities as the primary focus areas for the Coalition and approved a business plan for marketing the Coalition and its services in the bi-state area.
  • Hired Rita Muehlbach, director of education. (2001)
  • Held the KCHS Perinatal Substance Abuse Conference, with Ira Chasnoff.
  • Opened an account at UMB Bank.
  • Celebration 2000 Partnership Luncheon with KCHS and United Way.
  • Injury-Free KC Safety Fair.
  • Sponsored a Multicultural Breakfast Club Conference series with sessions on Latino, Native American, Vietnamese, African-American and Refugee cultures.
  • Began annual series of Legislative Programs, starting with “Maternal and Child Health Policy.”
  • The Board Development Committee focused efforts on gaining support from the partner agencies for an organizational 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, in-kind, about our monthly Bee Wise (Immunize) 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 led the creation of the Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) program to study the causes of fetal and infant deaths and to advocate for system improvements.
  • Health and Safety fair.
  • Hired Paul Cesare, Coalition coordinator, and Deb Bumgardner, MAIC director.
  • Barbara Moore retired.
  • Prime Health Foundation $200,000 grant for Town Hall meetings and PA obesity. (2002)
  • Hired Amy Bidney, administrative assistant; Anne Biswell became office manager.
  • Breastfeeding grant with Office of Women’s Health. (2003)
  • Kansas City Healthy Start transitioned from United Way to Mother & Child Health Coalition.
  • 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.


  • Received the Department of Education’s Carol White PEP grant for Childhood Obesity Weighing In.
  • A fund development plan was developed to guide the Coalition’s sustainability efforts.
  • Hired first development director (Cesar Motts) and continued to attract grants from various government, public and private sources.
  • Hired Betty Cook, KC Fountain Project first FIMR director.
  • In order to accommodate the larger staff, MCHC moved into space at 6400 Prospect Avenue Suite 216 in Kansas City, Missouri until the move to 1734 E. 63rd in January of 2018.
  • 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.
  • Created an advisory board of prominent and influential individuals to aid the Coalition in its promotion in the community.
  • Hired Linda Hawkey, first finance manager (2003);  Anne Biswell became communications coordinator.
  • Hired Marla Dupree, mental health family advocate for KCHS. (2003)
  • Hired Renee Anderson, first clinical nurse family advocate for KCHS. (2004)


  • MCHC was designated as the home of Safe Kids Metro KC Deb Bumgardner, director.
  • Held 2nd health fair. MCHC_SafeKids_logo
  • MCHC held its first annual Celebrating Healthy Motherhood Luncheon with more than 200 people attending. Attendance grew to almost 500 people over the next five years.
  • MCHC received funding from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to continue the Weighing In Collaborative and the Eat Small project, a public awareness and education campaign delivering portion control messages to tweens.
  • Kid Power KC – Kim Carrington, coordinator; then Julie Barry.
  • MCHC received $1.5m grant for KCHS program from the USDHHS.


  • Kid Power KC Project: Conducted two school assemblies hosted by Radio Disney and delivered the Eat Small message to more than 900 kids in the ZIP code areas of 64117 and 64134.
  • Conducted a community event at the KC Marathon Kids Race hosted by Radio Disney and delivered the message to more than 1,100 parents and the general public.
  • MCHC joined the “Leave a Legacy” KC Chapter.
  • Hired Pat Martin, KCHS clinical nurse family advocate, and Mary Jean Brown, FIMR coordinator.


  • A new program, 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. Activities included educational workshops for dads and basketball clinics for the kids.
  • KC Magic Weekend activities with Magic Johnson. logo_splash_nav
  • Updated the MCHC logo and website with new features; created a style guide, organizational brochure and a corporate leave-behind piece to help market the MCHC brand to its members, donors and the bi-state community.
  • The Eat Small media campaign reached the metro through newspapers, billboards, bus ads and local television eat_small_WHITEBGstations including KCPT and many Time Warner Cable stations. Millions were reached through the campaign.
  • Eat Small educational materials reached more than 6,000 local students in 13 school districts with handouts and teaching kits for teachers and school nurses.
  • KID POWER KC 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.
  • Started regular monthly childbirth classes.
  • Safe Kids Metro KC named Local Coalition of the Year.
  • Hired Angha Childress, development director.
  • Hired Tyrone Yarbrough, Dedicated Dads coordinator.
  • Held the first Safe Kids awards.
  • 250 mothers and 213 infants received case management services in the Kansas City Healthy Start program in fiscal year 2007-2008.


  • A joint partnership with Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics was begun for the Weighing In Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative.
  • Held the first annual MAIC Silver Syringe Award competition for the largest increase in hospital health care workers immunized for influenza, promoted by MAIC and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) members at various hospitals.
  • Kansas City Healthy Start and Dedicated Dads partnered with Black Entertainment Television to hold Wrap It Up events in Kansas City.
  • Advocated in several areas including early childhood education, health care reform, the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and Medicaid for children, and against TABOR-like legislation in Missouri.
  • Worked with the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition to promote breastfeeding in the workplace, using The Business Case for Breastfeeding tool kit.
  • David Mundy, MD, perinatologist at Truman Medical Center, was welcomed as the Chair of the FIMR Case Review Team (CRT). Since the beginning of the FIMR program in Kansas City in 2001, over 110 cases had been reviewed by the CRT.  Analysis of the data is shared bi-annually with the Community Action Team (CAT).
  • Through an adolescent immunization grant from MODHSS, the MAIC Steering Committee hosted a series of out-of-office dinners to educate health care workers (HCW) on the importance of being vaccinated.
  • Healthy Motherhood Luncheon, with Dr. Mom, guest speaker was attended by 460 people and raised more than $52,000 in revenue.
  • “Eat Small” project, hired Yvonne Dorsey coordinator.


  • Susan McLoughlin was appointed by the Kansas Governor to serve on the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality.
  • Healthy Motherhood Luncheon, with Consuela Kickbush, guest speaker.


  • As part of MCHC’s 25th Anniversary celebration, 460 people attended the 2010 Healthy Motherhood Luncheon event honoring 25 Shining Stars from the Kansas City community committed to bettering the lives of mothers and children.
  • MCHC participated in planning for a coordinated, comprehensive, metro-wide approach for Kansas City Safe Haven for Newborns, facilitating a survey of area hospitals, as part of April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month efforts in Kansas City.
  • The MCHC executive director began serving on the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality. The panel was appointed to address Kansas’ high infant mortality rate, a rate which is exceeding the rates of most other states. MCHC was showcased along with Kansas City Healthy Start and Kansas City Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) as part of a “Possible Interventions: What Works” presentation to the Panel. The Panel has met several times with the Kansas Governor’s Child Health Advisory Committee to discuss potential action steps, and report recommendations and priorities.
  • The MCHC executive director participated on an advisory panel convened by the Kansas Health Institute to develop the concept of “Children’s Health in All Policies,” a policy strategy for improving the health of Kansas children. The Panel developed a communication plan for a Kansas Statewide Infant Mortality Campaign, in order to increase awareness about the seriousness of infant mortality as a public health issue in Kansas.
  • As part of MCHC’s activities related to the Business Case for Breastfeeding, MCHC adopted a policy for employees who breastfeed which can be used as a model for other small organizations.
  • Under Safe Kids Metro KC, 18 Child Passenger Safety events were held, with 304 car seats distributed to families that needed them. A total of 394 checks were done on installed safety seats to ensure they were done properly.
  • Participated on an advisory panel convened by the Kansas Health Institute to develop the concept of “Children’s Health in All Policies,” (CHAP) a strategy for improving the health of Kansas children.
  • Created the “PJ Gets Wise” video on adolescent immunization, replacing the original “Wally Takes Charge.” PJ receives the IMMY award at the MAIC awards ceremony.
  • Jean Craig, KCHS director, elected to National Healthy Start board.


  • In April 2011, National Minority Health Awareness Month, MCHC sponsored two events focused on infant mortality with special guest speaker, Tonya Lewis Lee JD, as part of a state-wide campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, “A Healthy Baby Begins with You.”
  • MCHC partnered with the March of Dimes and other key Kansas and Kansas City area stakeholders in coordinating efforts to prevent prematurity through the new Kansas Prematurity Coalition.
  • MCHC received grant funding towards the coordination of a comprehensive, metro-wide approach for a community awareness campaign for Safe Haven for Newborns. The promotion “No One Ever Has to Abandon a Newborn” appeared on 18 billboards and inside 120 Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) buses throughout the metro area during the month of April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The new Safe Haven Education Committee also produced a brochure, poster, and Power Point presentation to help educate the public.
  • Under the FIMR Case Review Team, a Safe Sleep Task Force was created and members include representatives from the CRT, SIDS Resources, Child Fatality Review Panel and Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics Section of Child Abuse and Neglect. The task force recognizes the need to educate those caring for newborns in addition to the mothers, in particular other relatives and day care providers.
  • A project of MAIC, the adolescent immunization DVD, “P.J. Gets Wise,” was mailed free to health departments, private practices and school districts in 41 states. Immunization promotion included “Fight the Flu” movie and magazine ads advising viewers to get the flu vaccine, (300,000 viewers) and an ad “Vaccines Work appeared on the tail end of 20 KCATA buses (480,440 viewers).
  • Began strategic planning with the assistance of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership.
  • In 2011, MCHC branched out into new avenues of social media with a presence on Face Book and Twitter (@mchc_dot_net).


  • The Safe Sleep Task Force formed, and worked to educate parents and others caring for newborns on the key elements of a safe sleep environment. Projects included providing materials on safe sleep to area pediatricians’ offices.
  • Mid America Immunization Coalition held a total of 7 immunization trainings. Ad campaigns included “Vaccines Work” and “Fight the Flu.” A grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Region VII, helped to focus on flu education in the African American and Hispanic communities.
  • Safe Kids Metro KC projects in 2012 included International Walk to School Day, Bucks for Buckles and a sports injury prevention program. SKMKC co-sponsored the annual Child Safety Initiative Conference in April with Children’s Mercy Hospital, and partnered with the Missouri Head Start program to provide parent education on child passenger safety. Once again, the promotion “No One Ever Has to Abandon a Newborn” appeared on 10 Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) buses throughout the metro area during the month of April 2013, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.


  • Susan McLoughlin and Jean Craig were appointed by the Missouri governor to serve on the Missouri Task Force on Prematurity and Infant Mortality.
  • The Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) team published a report on 125 cases to date, showing that the factors that contribute to fetal and infant deaths remain the same: asthma, obesity, addiction to alcohol, tobacco and/or other drugs, and late or no prenatal care. The team worked to implement free pregnancy testing, enrollment into Medicaid and ensuring that the first pre-natal visit is scheduled.
  • Advocated in several areas including human trafficking (KS SB 61), and for Safe Haven for Newborns legislation to increase the number of days to relinquish an infant from 5-45 days in Missouri, both of which passed and were signed into law by the governors.
  • A $29,000. FedEx grant to Safe Kids Metro KC provided much needed safety infrastructure improvements to Johnson Elementary school in the Hickman Mills School District
  • A Breastfeeding Welcome Here campaign was developed as the Breastfeeding Committee’s involvement with the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. The campaign includes a window cling and other items that showcase which businesses are breastfeeding-friendly to customers.  The overall intent is to create a breastfeeding-friendly shopping experience for mothers of infants/toddlers still nursing, with the goal to alter public opinion such that breastfeeding becomes the norm, rather than the exception.  Too many women stop breastfeeding due to feeling ostracized due to their infant feeding choices.
  • The Employer Support for Nursing Mothers Award, a collaborative effort (the KBC and MCHC co-created the set of award criteria) of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, Missouri Dept. of Health & Senior Services, and MCHC, has been developed to give to businesses that meet one of a three-tiered set of criteria—gold, silver, and bronze. Employers who meet the criteria will be added to the MCHC web site and provided with an award.  The award is based upon The Business Case for Breastfeeding.  This award process is to assist the public and corporations to know what potential employers and peer businesses are doing well and how one may be able to learn from another, especially since it is now a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that employers must assist lactating employees in their efforts to successfully breastfeed their baby.
  • See Annual Reports for more detailed information on the many activities and accomplishments of Mother & Child Health Coalition and its various programs and committees.