Florida’s Healthy Start Program was conceived in the early 1990’s when then Governor Lawton Chiles and First Lady Rhea Chiles convened a group of community leaders and challenged them to build local coalitions to reduce Florida’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate.
As chairman of the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality, he believed every child deserved a healthy start in life, and wanted communities to build strong local coalitions to provide high-quality prenatal care for mothers and health care for children, especially for those who are at high risk.
In 1991, the Florida legislature signed into law “The Healthy Start Program.”
The state’s 32 new coalitions were designed to be partnerships made up of local public and private medical professionals, hospitals, schools, charities, social services agencies, and individuals.
Their charge was and is still is to assess the needs of their service area, and provide moms, newborns and families with the resources, support and help they need to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth.
Development of Sarasota County‘s Healthy Start Coalition
Originally part of the larger Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida for the HRS District 8 area, Sarasota County formed its own Coalition in order to identify and resolve its own local, unique problems affecting our county’s pregnant women, new mothers, and infants.
The new Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization on May 16, 1998, after two years of planning and preparation.