Founded in 1988, the Gift of Life Foundation has been working to decrease infant mortality in Montgomery County through programs that empower women to reduce the challenges they face that threaten their health and prevent a healthy birth outcome.
The Gift of Life was formed in response to a crisis in obstetrical care in Montgomery. Montgomery and its surrounding counties were known as one of the worst areas in the nation to have a baby. Obstetricians were leaving. Infant mortality and the number of low birthweight babies were rising. Hospitals were experiencing high numbers of walk-in deliveries. The system of perinatal care was fragmented, uncoordinated, and in disarray.
A coalition of concerned community leaders, private obstetricians, pediatricians, local hospitals, and city, county and state government leaders formed to address the problem. Federal grant dollars and community funds were solicited and used as seed money to create the Gift of Life — the first managed maternity care program in the region.
During Gift of Life’s first year of operation, the organization applied for and was awarded the first Medicaid Maternity waiver in Alabama. This waiver allowed the Gift of Life to subcontract with area health care entities such as local private physicians, a community health center, county health departments, and area hospitals to provide pregnancy-related services for Medicaid-eligible recipients.
Over the next 30 years, the Gift of Life experienced phenomenal growth. By 1999, it had expanded to 20 counties and was responsible for over 30 percent of Medicaid’s Maternity Care Program counties in Alabama.
In 2000, the Gift of Life became the sponsoring entity for the Montgomery Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which provided health education to area youth in partnership with Montgomery Public Schools.
In 2009, the Gift of Life implemented the state of Alabama’s first Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program, which pairs a registered nurse with a first-time mother and her family to help her have a healthier pregnancy, improve child health and development, and become more self-sufficient.
In September 2014, the Gift of Life was awarded a five-year Healthy Start grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration. In addition to providing support for the Nurse Family Partnership program, the funding was used to launch the Gift of Life’s successful family coaching programs: Parents as Teachers, Mobile Family Coaching, and the Fathers in Action Initiative— which provide intensive support and resources to moms and their families.
In 2015, Gift of Life opted out of Medicaid’s Maternity Waiver Program. At the program’s conclusion, Gift of Life had coordinated over 6,000 Medicaid patient deliveries annually.
Remaining true to its mission and core values, Gift of Life continues to provide support to families most at-risk for infant mortality. Our home visitation and family coaching programs, community outreach, and family support services are an effective way to ensure that education, support and the linkage to vital community services continues to strengthen Montgomery families.
Because of our work, infant mortality has been reduced, more private obstetricians accept low-income women, teen pregnancy rates have decreased, and more women have access to prenatal care. In addition, countless families have been empowered with the knowledge and skills they need to become successful parents and help create a community where children thrive!