The Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation (MECF) was founded in 1983 in connection with the efforts of former Assemblyman Denis Butler to obtain a $300,000 grant from the New York State Legislature for assistance to pregnant women, especially low-income women and single women, to enable them to have healthy babies and raise their families with dignity. Assemblyman Butler advocated with his fellow members of the Assembly for funding for the Foundation for many years, raising more than $17 million dollars for MECF during the time he was in the Assembly.
During the first year of MECF’s existence, 13 grants were awarded to agencies across the state and a part-time Executive Director was hired. The initial priority for funding was to support services for high need pregnant and parenting teens living in areas where those services were limited. Over the years, bipartisan support of the New York State Legislature increased and with it, the amount of funding also increased. As the funding level increased the Foundation was able to widen its priorities within its initial focus and fund many more programs throughout New York State. Approximately 10 years ago, MECF was added as a line item in the Governor’s Budget.
Each year, MECF provides funding for services for thousands of families. Most of the parents served are below age 21 and enroll prenatally. Without this funding, many expectant and new parents would not receive services.
As it has done since its beginning, the Board of the Foundation strives to distribute funding for programs to all parts of the State.