About the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)

At the Maternal and Child Health Bureau our mission is to improve the health of America’s mothers, children and families. We envision an America where all children and families are healthy and thriving. The Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Program has broad reach, serving more than 50 million people.

Contact Us

Associate Administrator
Michael C. Lu, MD, MS, MPH

Deputy Associate Administrator
Laura Kavanagh, MPP

MCHB Key Staff

Our History

In 1912, the federal commitment to addressing maternal and child health was made with the establishment of the Children’s Bureau. This commitment was repeated in 1935 when Title V of the Social Security Act was enacted.

Discover the history of maternal and child health through our interactive timeline.

Our commitment aligns with the broader goals of HRSA:

increased access iconImprove access to quality health care and services

  • More than half of pregnant women and more than a third of infants and children in the United States benefit from Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grants program.
  • The Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program works to assure that children receive the same high quality emergency care as adults throughout the U.S.

Strengthen the health workforce iconStrengthen the health workforce

  • MCH Workforce Development grants develop trainees for leadership roles in the areas of teaching, research, clinical practice, public health administration and policy making, and community-based programs. In FY 2014, the grant programs supported 33,464 trainees.

build healthy communities iconBuild healthy communities

  • Through the Healthy Start Program, we reduce racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality and improve birth outcomes. We focus on women’s health before, between and beyond pregnancies; improving the quality of care provided to pregnant women; making families strong and strengthening father involvement.

    At the community level, Healthy Start gives families the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their income, education, or racial or ethnic background. The Healthy Start program continues to be successful in the communities it serves. 

Improve health equity iconImprove health equity

  • The Federal Home Visiting Program serves many of the most vulnerable families. In FY 2015: 77% of participating families had household incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty guidelines ($24,250 for a family four), and 46% were at or below 50% of those guidelines.
  • The MCH Research Program supports research that addresses the needs of underserved populations, including families and children:
    • living in poverty,
    • in rural and urban areas,
    • from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds,
    • with special health care needs, or
    • at high risk of poor developmental outcomes.

Strengthen program operations iconStrengthen program operations

  • MCHB, engaging its stakeholders at all levels, transformed the Title V Block Grant to reduce state burden, maintain flexibility, and improve accountability.

Our Approach

To achieve our vision, we rely upon evidence-based strategies to implement our programs and monitor their effectiveness through data-driven means.

Our Areas of Expertise

MCHB-funded programs, research, outreach and other efforts seek to ensure the health and well-being of women and children across their lives—when a woman is of child-bearing age; when a woman is pregnant; when a child is born; if the child has special health care needs, and as a child grows. Primarily, we support states and jurisdictions through the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, which is further complemented by our diverse portfolio of discretionary and appropriated grant programs.

Along with partners from other federal agencies, states, communities, professional groups, and family organizations, MCHB’s divisions and offices collaborate to support our overall mission. To ensure optimal health and development across the lifespan of the MCH population, all our programs and efforts focus on the following six areas:

Maternal/Women's Health

About 65% of all pregnant women in the U.S. benefit from Title V programs.

The Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines aim to improve women’s health across the lifespan by identifying preventive services and screenings to be used in clinical practice.

Other efforts focus on maternal health by working on reducing maternal sickness/death, ensuring quality and safety in maternity care and supporting state and community-based strategies that improve access to care. This is being done by getting maternal safety bundles exit disclaimer into birthing hospitals in America over the next 3 years.

Adolescent/Young Adult Health

Nearly 3/4 of adolescents (age 12-17) have had a well-visit check-up in the past year.

Experiences and behavioral patterns that occur in adolescents and young adults can have lasting effects on adult health, well-being, and abilities at work. The Adolescent and Young Adult Health program aims to improve health and safety results by increasing access to complete health care, substance abuse prevention and treatment services, reproductive health, nutrition and physical activity information, and more.

Bullying is an important public health issue. Our efforts, combined with those of our partners, include developing and sharing research, guidance and resources at the national, state and local levels to help prevent bullying.

Perinatal/Infant Health

Nearly 100% of babies in the U.S. are screened for serious conditions at birth.

With the Title V, Home Visiting, and Healthy Start programs, improvement and innovation collaboratives, and the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality, we promote and provide essential efforts to reduce preterm birth, low birth weight babies and ultimately infant death.

When a baby is born, our focus remains on both the mother and infant. We strive for every child born to be screened for heritable disorders and hearing impairment. Teaching mothers and caregivers about breastfeeding and safe sleep behaviors encourages their use. Linking effective programs, policies and services allows us to reach directly to infants, mothers and caregivers.

Children with Special Health Care Needs

Nearly 82% reduction un unintentional injury-related deaths among children 5-14 years between 1970 – 2013.

Nearly 20% of U.S. children under 18 have a special health need. Through efforts such as the Title V Block Grant and Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, we strive to increase the number of children with special health needs (CSHCN) and their families that have access to high quality, specialized medical care and supportive services.

For those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ongoing efforts to increase awareness, reduce barriers, and improve results include supporting research, training health professionals and promoting evidence-based programs and policies.

Hemophilia, Sickle Cell, and other genetic diseases and disorders are also areas of concern. MCHB helps states and communities to identify these conditions earlier; develop complete, culturally appropriate, and family-centered genetic services; and understand how genetics affect health.

Child Health

From birth to age five, children develop skills that will impact the rest of their lives. Several programs like Bright Futures, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems, and Home Visiting work to build systems that improve the physical and emotional health of young children. These shared efforts encourage positive parenting, child development and school readiness.

Child safety and the prevention of severe illness, trauma or death are also an important part of our work.

Cross-Cutting/Life Course

Each step in a child’s growth is crucial to their physical, emotional, and social well-being. Programs and policies allow for states and communities to recommend immunizations, improve and maintain oral health, reduce obesity through access to information and programs that promote proper nutrition and physical activity, and prevent tobacco use. Partnerships with state Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) ensure that uninsured families are connected to the insurance for which they are eligible.

Prioritizing Research and Training

In order to accelerate the translation of research to practice and policy, we take a more integrative and transdisciplinary approach to research which will ultimately help solve maternal and child health problems. Coupled with this research, is our investment in training supports both the practicing MCH workforce and educating the next generation of MCH leaders.

Measuring Success

Each of our efforts is tied to specific measurements that monitor performance and outcomes. We do this to ensure that every action we take leads to improved health for U.S. mothers, children, and their families. Search through program data for the MCH Title V Block Grant Program on the Title V Information System (TVIS) and the Discretionary Grants Information System (DGIS).

Engage with Us!

Join the conversation – use #MCH, #maternalhealth and #childhealth on Twitter exit disclaimer icon and Facebook exit disclaimer icon.


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Date Last Reviewed:  January 2017