Description: The Kansas City Healthy Start project addresses the issues of infant mortality, the elimination of health care disparities, and the improvement of the health of pregnant women, infants, and their families in Wyandotte County, Kansas and Jackson County, Missouri. Teams consisting of a Family Advocate and Family Support Worker, located at local community settings, assist women with case management, referral/information, and education. The case managers work with the women until the child is two years of age. The Dedicated Dads program connects fathers and men to community resources to help them become role models for their children and families.  The Mother and Child Health Coalition of Greater Kansas City provides the consortium for the project and extensive training for consumers, providers, and professionals.


Project Contacts:             Kathryn L. Fuger, 816.235.5351,

Melissa Newkirk, 816.235.6384,

Project Period:                 1997-2014
Project Funding:             
$86,670 (FY2014)
Funding Source:              
US DHSS, Division of Maternal and Child Health

Core Functions

Applied Research:  The evaluation of the project has been under the direction of the UMKC IHD faculty.

Community Services and Supports: Institute faculty serve on the management team and provide input into changes in the design and program development.

Information Dissemination: Institute faculty have developed many products that are used throughout the community, including Site Reports, survey instruments, evaluation summaries, poster presentations, and other materials.


Program Need and Historical Context

While infant mortality has improved over the past decade, there are pockets of areas where these statistics are quite high. In addition, racial disparity in statistics related to infant births exists, especially related to birth weight.   Kansas City had unsuccessfully applied for a Healthy Start grant in 1992. When the new Request for Proposal was published, the Maternal and Child Health Coalition was approached to apply. UMKC IHD was asked to write the proposal. Most recently, continued program funding was awarded in 2009 (with the assistance of UMKC-IHD) for a 50year period.


Significant Project Activities and Outcomes

  • Approximately 1,400 women and their infants have been served by this project. The birth weights and gestational age of these infants have been better than other infants born in the target area.
  • Training has been provided to over 4,000 individuals per year in a wide array of topics from prenatal care to cultural diversity.
  • Lower infant birth mortality, higher birth weight, and longer gestational periods were measured for infants of participants at the end of the first grant cycle, and continued assessments occur annually.
  • The UMKC-IHD faculty worked with Kansas City Healthy Start staff to select a maternal self-efficacy screening tool and analyze results from implementation.


Institute’s Role

  • Institute faculty wrote the original grant (1997) and the most recent grant (2014) and assisted with the development of all continuing grant applications and the competitive grant applications in 2000, 2004 and 2009.
  • Institute faculty evaluated the project and reported the findings since the inception of Kansas City Healthy Start.
  • Evaluated all training conducted for participants, staff teams, and community agency personnel.
  • Assisted in the development of the mental health component.
  • Revised the evaluation forms to be responsive to national and local priorities and to convert to a fillable PDF format.
  • Institute faculty serves on the Kansas City Healthy Start management team.



  • Several successful grant applications
  • Over 100 reports on training activities and other aspects of the program
  • Annual Reports
  • Five-Year Evaluation Report
  • Seven  Final Reports
  • Three poster presentations for the Inter-Conceptional Care Collaborative Conference with corresponding handout for 2010 and 2011 annual conferences
  • Yearly evaluation form binders and CDs
  • Fact Sheets for distribution to legislators



System:  The local system has changed with the inclusion of the case management Family Advocate-Family Support Worker teams.

Personnel:  Program staff and community agencies have built their capacity to serve pregnant and post-partum women and their families through the training provided. 

Leveraging:  The Institute wrote the initial and most recent grants and assisted with other grant development.