Tracy Russell Executive Director Mother and Child Health Coalition
The national, state and local discussions and solutions around maternal health tend to focus on physical rather than mental health. It is time to recognize and shift the conversation, acknowledging that physical and mental wellbeing together are essential for our families’ wellness.

For example, 37 percent of pregnancy-associated deaths are due to mental health reasons. A substantial portion of these deaths are among the Medicaid population. In Missouri and Kansas, the income eligibility guidelines for Medicaid drop substantially within 60 days postpartum. This means many mothers no longer have access to health care at a time when they need it most. Particularly with postpartum depression, symptoms may not arise until after coverage has expired, leaving new mothers without the necessary resources to get help. While there has been a relaxing of eligibility during the pandemic, in Kansas, this cut off will most likely remain after the pandemic has subsided.

While mental health challenges are always present, the occurrence of COVID-19 has exacerbated and exposed the scarcity of attention to this problem. A recent report by BioMed Central cited a spike in maternal mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. It also points to a rise a domestic violence during the pandemic. In addition, food scarcity, job loss and corresponding income loss continue to weigh on mothers as they cope during an unprecedented time.

One of the most impactful solutions is to offer wrap-around services to meet this need, offering support to mothers as part of integrated care. At Nurture KC, we are now providing group counseling sessions with licensed therapist, Dr. Tamela Ross. Dr. Ross meets with a group of Healthy Start moms bi-monthly. These moms receive the expertise of Dr. Ross as well as the comfort of knowing they have peers who are experiencing similar issues. We piloted this new service in March and plan to make it a regular offering for Healthy Start. For more information on our group counseling, visit our new “For Healthy Start Families” page and see the below article.

Tracy Russell
Executive Director, Nurture KC
New resources now available for Healthy Start families

This month, Nurture KC launched two resource pages -- one in English and one in Spanish -- for families in our Healthy Start program. It's accessible through our web site's Family Portal at

Here, families can access:
  • Healthy cooking videos + recipes by Chef Iran and Chef Davis -- created specifically for our Healthy Start families
  • Therapy sessions for new moms with Dr. Tamela Ross of The Healing Corner (and current Nurture KC Board Member)
  • Yoga sessions at beginner, intermediate and advance levels with Samantha Collinson of Maya Yoga (and current Nurture KC Board Member)
  • COVID-19 fact sheets and local resources
  • Requests for diapers, cribs and corresponding education

This is a one-stop shop to give families access to extra resources to help make their lives easier. Services will continue to expand as needed. We are proud of this new offering and look forward to our families benefitting from it.
Annual Report captures 2020 accomplishments ... it's a must read!

Despite a pandemic, Nurture KC actually expanded services this past year. Check out our Annual Report - packed with images and stats - to see how we helped families. It also includes our:
  • Public Policy Action
  • Program Highlights
  • Organizational Finances
  • Communications and Outreach
  • Pandemic Response
  • Local Partners
  • Board of Directors
  • And more

"Against the backdrop of a pandemic, Nurture KC dove deep into our mission, pivoting to provide our families with services to meet their emergent needs," said Tracy Russell, Executive Director. "As we lean into 2021, we will continue to adapt to meet our families’ needs. We will not let barriers stop us from moving forward in our mission to reduce infant and maternal mortality. As always, we appreciate your support." 

The Annual Report is housed on the Nurture KC web site, under the News & Events tab, at Please take a few minutes to read it and get up-to-date on our work.
Senate bill would ban KDHE from requiring new vaccines for Kansas school kids

There is a flurry of immunization action occurring in Topeka right now. Sen. Mark Steffen is advocating for legislation prohibiting the state health secretary from requiring new immunizations for children to attend school or day care. Under current law, students are required to receive certain immunizations before they go to school. The secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) can amend the list should the need arise.

Obviously, Nurture KC opposes this legislation -- Senate Bill 212 -- and our stance was shared in this article, which appeared in the Kansas Reflector. In the article, Shelby Ostrom, Program Director for the Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC), said continued oversight by KDHE separate from the legislative process was vital in maintaining and improving public health in Kansas.

"There is a rigorous process already in place, grounded in science, which best serves Kansans," Ostrom said. "This is a process that has and should continue to be separate from the political arena."

Members can keep an eye on this legislation through our MEMBERS page. Check out the first bill under "Immunization" for Kansas, and our "Take Action" and "Hot Topics" sections on the page. This page is password protected for members only. If you are a member and need help accessing the page, please email our administrative assistant, Erica Wilson, at [email protected]. If your membership has expired and you need to renew it, please visit our membership page.
Recognizing moms in our Healthy Start Program

This International Women's Day, we celebrated all the moms in our Healthy Start Program -- which served 346 families this past year. They are creating a brighter tomorrow for their children. We are proud of all their hard work! Learn more about Healthy Start at
To Linda Stinnett for renewing her membership.
If you need to renew your membership, click the "join today" button below.
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Kansas City, MO 64111