The Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County, Inc. (HSCMC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is one of 33 similar community-based prenatal and infant health and support services agencies throughout Florida. The Healthy Start program was born in 1991 when Florida Governor Lawton Chiles and First Lady Rhea Chiles convened a group of community leaders and challenged them to build local coalitions to reduce the state’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate. They believed every child deserved a healthy start in life and worked with communities to build strong local coalitions to provide high quality prenatal care for mothers and health care for children.
Healthy Start coalitions were established by the state legislature in 1991 (s.383.2161, F.S.) to reduce infant mortality and the number of low birth weight and preterm babies in Florida, as well as to improve maternal and child health outcomes by working to identify and address the community’s health problems impacting women and their families.
Since its inception in 1992, HSCMC has been able to make a positive difference in the community by building strong local partnerships – with health and social service providers, local government and law enforcement agencies, the business community, and faith-based and civic organizations – and by delivering programs that effectively meet the particular needs of pregnant women, infants, and their families. This community-based model has proven to be successful in prevention efforts, education initiatives, and support services to pregnant women and babies.