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Help Households In Need

Maternal And Child Health Consortium Addresses Local Health, Resource Disparities

Start healthy, stay healthy, and succeed in school -- it's a noble wish for every infant, right?

Although Chester County ranks as the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, Milena Oberti Lanz, executive director for West Chester-based Maternal and Child Health Consortium, says one in four county residents are struggling to make financial ends meet and to access resources they need to stay healthy.

"The hardest hit are families with children," she adds. 

MCHC’s mission is to advocate for and empower prenatal and parenting families to achieve healthy beginnings and inspired, bright futures through a caring culture of service. The vision of this registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit's supporters is to create a network through which every family has access to health care, education and opportunity for success.

MCHC was created in 1991 by representatives from the Chester County Health Department, March of Dimes of Southeastern PA, and Planned Parenthood of Chester County on the belief that everyone should have access to high-quality health care regardless of race, ethnicity, language or insurance status.

In 1995, the consortium started providing prenatal case management for low-income pregnant and parenting people and their children who seek support. In 1997, with funding from the federal Healthy Start program, MCHC became one of 100 Healthy Start programs in the country and they expanded to reach more at-risk individuals. MCHC’s Family Benefits Program soon was introduced to provide uninsured/under-insured families with bilingual, bicultural assistance with accessing state subsidized health insurance programs, and then in 2010 expanded to include enrollment in food benefits. In 2006, MCHC launched the Family Center Program to address a gap in school readiness among low-income families with children in southern Chester County.

Now, Natalie Coughlin, MCHC director of development and communications, says the nonprofit serves nearly 5,000 individuals every year, and has become a leading service provider in the Chester County social safety net, with their work cited in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Today, she adds that MCHC has an operating budget of more than $1.8 million through public and private partnerships and strong community support.

One of the nonprofit's outreach programs stems from MCHC community health workers visiting participants to practice problem-solving and fine motor skills with their children. Natalie confirms that a main focus of the Healthy Start program is to provide activities that families can do with items already found in their homes, without needing to purchase anything extra.

Healthy Start families receive socio-emotional, educational perinatal support and educational enrichment ideas with the Pennsylvania Parents as Teachers evidence-based curriculum.

MCHC’s success wouldn't be possible without the time and talents of volunteers throughout the year in activities, such as:

  • Organizing donation drives (warm coats and holiday toys, newborn baby bundles, back to school supplies).
  • Helping at events (community days, donation drives, fundraisers, summer Kindergarten Transition Program with kids).
  • Lending expertise (board committee activities in accounting, governance or fundraising).
  • Assisting behind the scenes (administrative).

The contact for volunteers is Sarahi Gutierrez, who may be reached by calling 610.344.5370, extension 122, or emailing

Items to donate to MCHC for families in need include the following. 

Accepted new items (tags on/unopened):

  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby body wash
  • Baby shampoo
  • Baby lotion
  • Baby wash cloths
  • Receiving blankets
  • Newborn onesies or outfits
  • Rattles or teethers
  • Booster car seats
  • Prepacked baby bundles containing a baby blanket, receiving blanket, newborn onesies (size 0-3 months), pack of diapers, wipes, washcloths, socks, bibs, lotion and shampoo.
  • The group has an established, online Amazon Wishlist, as well. 

Accepted gently used items (clean, free of stains or tears):

  • Baby bathtub seat
  • Baby clothes, sizes 0 months – 5T
  • Baby gear (monitors, swings, bouncers, play mats)
  • Booster seats
  • Maternity clothes
  • Pack-n-play
  • Strollers

Note that the consortium is not allowed to accept used car seats, cribs or walkers. Dropoff hours are Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Donation checks can be made payable to Maternal and Child Health Consortium and mailed to 30 West Barnard Street, Suite 1, West Chester, 19382. Donations also can be made online through the group's website or through the United Way of Chester County. 

Milena says the staff is proud that the Maternal and Child Health Consortium earns the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) Seal of Excellence.


Celebrating Healthy Families Dinner/Silent Auction:  Oct. 12, 2023, from 6-9 pm at Penn Oaks Golf Club, West Chester. Register/sponsor:

  • Photo by MCHC
  • Photo by MCHC