A #GivingTuesday Message from MFHS CEO Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD

Celebrating #GivingTuesday with Kate Flannery from The Office!

The Dundie for the best MFHS shoutout goes to… Kate Flannery from The Office!

Kate wants to tell you all about #GivingTuesday and how you can help MFHS provide nutrition and healthcare to women, children, and families not just in Scranton but across Northeast Pennsylvania! Every dollar you donate on December 1st will be matched by AllOne Charities up to $1000. Tell all your friends at Dunder Mifflin – donations can be made from Thanksgiving day through #GivingTuesday!

Maternal and Family Health Services Awarded $150,000 By the AllOne Foundation

Photo Left to Right: John Cosgrove, Executive Director AllOne Foundation; Ann Jones, NFP Program Manager at MFHS: Maria Montoro Edwards, MFHS President and CEO; Shannnon Hayward, MFHS Vice President of Service Delivery Operations; and Peter Danchak, AllOne Foundation Board Member.

Photo Left to Right: John Cosgrove, Executive Director AllOne Foundation; Ann Jones, NFP Program Manager at MFHS: Maria Montoro Edwards, MFHS President and CEO; Shannnon Hayward, MFHS Vice President of Service Delivery Operations; and Peter Danchak, AllOne Foundation Board Member.

Maternal and Family Health Services (MFHS) was recently awarded $150,000 from the AllOne Foundation to support the MFHS High Risk Nurse Home Visiting Project. The project will enable the MFHS Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program to increase the number of at-risk, multiparous women (women who have experienced one or more child births) who receive evidence-based home visiting services in the MFHS service area.

“Partnering moms with our caring nurse home visitors has long been proven to empower mothers in having a healthy pregnancy, and navigating all of the challenges that come with a new baby,” says Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD, MFHS President and CEO, “MFHS thanks the AllOne Foundation for supporting the expansion of the NFP Program so more at-risk mothers can get the support they need to have healthy, thriving children.”

MFHS is part of an initiative to expand access to the NFP Program, which is traditionally for at-risk, first time mothers only, to include at-risk mothers who have had a previous birth and could benefit from having a specially trained registered nurse provide care and support during pregnancy and through the child’s second birthday.

In addition to expanding access to NFP, the project funds a mental health professional to provide nurse home visitors with training and case consultation to address the complex mental health needs of clients, integrate mental health supports into the NFP program, increase linkages to mental health resources and strengthen collaboration with mental health services in the community, and build and develop the nurse home visitors’ capacity for engaging with mothers who are experiencing behavioral health and mental health challenges which could interfere with parenting and the parent-child relationship.

Interested parents-to-be in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wayne Counties can learn more about the program by visiting MFHS.org or calling 1-800-367-6347.

Department of Human Services Warns Pennsylvanians of Potential Scam Involving Pandemic EBT Benefits

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is warning of a possible scam concerning Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits and reminding Pennsylvanians to be skeptical of unsolicited or random calls or text messages about public-assistance programs – especially when the calls or text messages solicit personal information, such as Social Security numbers.

“We are all living through difficult times, and unfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage of others who may need help meeting essential needs. Be mindful, stay aware, and if you think something looks off, it probably is,” DHS Secretary Teresa Miller said.

DHS is investigating a report of individuals receiving calls with pre-recorded messages advising them to expedite their P-EBT benefits issuance by providing their Social Security number and case record number. In the message, the speaker claims to be from a County Assistance Office (CAO).

DHS and other government agencies do not ask for information about P-EBT, SNAP or any other public-assistance programs via unsolicited or random calls or texts, and Pennsylvanians should not reply to such a call or text or share any personal information if they are contacted in this way. If you or anyone you work with receive unsolicited or random calls or text messages telling you that you qualify for assistance and then asking for personal information, it is most likely a scam. Do not respond. Delete the message so you do not get caught in an identity theft scam.

Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter, or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance. Clients in Philadelphia should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215-560-7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.

The federal government authorized P-EBT in the spring to allow states to assist families with school-age children who qualified for free-and-reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program – and who lost their easy access to breakfast and lunch at school as a result of the school closures related to COVID-19 earlier this year.

DHS began distributing P-EBT benefits to Pennsylvania families in late May. To date, more than $360 million has been distributed to about 680,000 households to help families feed nearly 1 million children.  Families received about $370 per child.

DHS administered this program in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and schools across the commonwealth. The program was recently reauthorized by the federal government for the 2020-2021 school year. Pennsylvania and other states are currently awaiting guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture to begin the program for the current school year.

Additional information about Pennsylvania’s P-EBT can be found here.

If Pennsylvanians need help purchasing or affording food for themselves and their families, help may also be available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP helps nearly 1.9 million Pennsylvanians by providing assistance each month for groceries, helping households purchase enough food to avoid going hungry. SNAP is our country’s most important and most impactful anti-hunger program. For every meal provided by a Feeding Pennsylvania food bank, SNAP provides nine. While SNAP is intended to be a supplemental program, during a pandemic and historic unemployment, resources are strained, particularly for our lowest income Pennsylvanians.

Applications for the SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. All Pennsylvanians experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic, a lost job, or a change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they qualify for assistance with food, health care, and other essential needs.

For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.

Double your gift on #GivingTuesday 2020!

#GivingTuesday 2020 is almost here! Mark your calendars – this international day of giving is happening on December 1st, 2020, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. MFHS is thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with AllOne Charities for the third year in a row to celebrate #GivingTuesday! Your donation will be doubled thanks to the generosity of AllOne:

  • Every gift made to MFHS up to $1,000 total will be matched by AllOne. Donations must be made via the AllOne Charities website to qualify for the match.
  • You can make you donation from Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26th until Wednesday, December 2nd at 4pm.

AllOne is offering two bonuses (and possibly more to be announced soon!) to the non-profits participating in 2020:

  • The non-profit that raises the most money earns a $1,000 bonus.
  • The non-profit with the most individual donors also earns a $1,000 bonus.

Please mark your calendars and consider making an end of year gift to support MFHS via the AllOne #GivingTuesday website. Every gift, large and small, will help us continue to provide life changing health and nutrition services to women, children and families in Northeast Pennsylvania.


Maternal and Family Health Services Announces Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD, as New President and CEO

Dr. Maria Montoro Edwards headshotThe Board of Directors of Maternal and Family Health Services announces the appointment of Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD, as President and Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit health and human services organization. Dr. Montoro Edwards succeeds Bette Cox Saxton, who served MFHS as its President and CEO for the past 15 years in a 20-year leadership career at the organization.

“With her extensive administrative experience in the non-profit sector, her outstanding skill sets and familiarity with MFHS and the Northeastern PA community, Dr. Montoro Edwards emerged as the top candidate after a very thorough, comprehensive and competitive nationwide search process,” said Kathy Finsterbusch, Chair of the MFHS Board of Directors.

Dr. Montoro Edwards has more than 25 years’ experience in non-profit administration and a record of success in securing, implementing and stewarding public and private funding. She most recently served as Interim President and CEO at Telespond Senior Services, Inc., and prior to that as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at The Wright Center for Community Health/The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education. She has a doctorate in Human Development, taught grantsmanship at the graduate level and is a certified research administrator with a credential in protecting human subjects in research.

In 2018, Dr. Montoro Edwards became a pioneering leader of the Healthy MOMS (Maternal Opiate Medical Support) program, connecting the Wright Center for Community Health, Maternal and Family Health Services and other dedicated community partners together to generate a collaborative response to neonatal abstinence syndrome. She was integral in securing funding for this program, which has served more than 100 expectant and new mothers across the region.

As an active member of the community, she has been involved with more than 25 organizations and boards of directors. Currently, she is serving on the boards of Community Intervention Center, NEPA Rainbow Alliance and Northeast Pennsylvania Nonprofit Community Assistance Center (NCAC). A life-long resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania, she resides in Madison Township with her husband, Kevin Edwards.

“The Board of Directors looks forward to working with Dr. Montoro Edwards to build upon the solid foundation of our organization’s many successes and achievements and to lead MFHS in the challenging and ever-changing health and human services non-profit environment,” said Finsterbusch. “We’re very confident she will follow in the footsteps of her predecessor and take the organization to new heights and achieve new and important successes in caring for the tens of thousands of underserved women, children and families who rely upon us every day.”

A Special Farewell For Bette Cox Saxton

As she prepares to leave Maternal and Family Health Services, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you and best wishes to MFHS President & CEO Bette Cox Saxton. We asked some of our friends and community partners to record a special message for Bette before she starts her new adventure.

Thank you for all that you’ve done for the women and children of Northeast Pennsylvania, and for everything you’ve done for MFHS! #MFHSproud

Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Available for WIC Participants

Maternal and Family Health Services announced that the agency’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Nutrition Centers are distributing farmers market vouchers to WIC participants. The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) helps families with nutritional needs buy fresh fruits and vegetables from Pennsylvania farmers to help ensure good health for mothers and children and support community farmers’ markets. 

FMNP provides qualifying WIC participants with $24 in vouchers (4 – $6.00 vouchers) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets between June 1 and November 30.  Pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, and children between the ages of 1 and 5 years old are eligible.  

WIC nutrition staff distribute the vouchers to WIC participants along with nutrition education emphasizing the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and a list of participating farmers’ markets in the area.  

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.  Across the Commonwealth, over 1000 farmers benefit from the program.  For more information or to apply for WIC, visit www.mfhs.org, or call 1-800-367-6347. 

Pennsylvania WIC is funded by the USDA. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.   

WIC Nutrition Program Announces Increased Income Guidelines

Maternal and Family Health Services announced that the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program has increased income guidelines allowing more families to participate in the free nutrition education program. 

According to the new income guidelines for WIC, beginning on July 1, 2020, a family of four could earn $48,470 annually and qualify for WIC. For a family of three, the income limit is $40,182 to qualify, and a family of two can earn up to $31,894 and qualify for nutrition assistance. A complete list of income guidelines is below. 

The WIC Nutrition Program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides nutrition education and access to healthy foods for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children under the age of 5.  To qualify, participants must meet the income guidelines, have a nutritional or medical need, and live in Pennsylvania.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.  

WIC provides participants with supplemental healthy foods which contain vital nutrients essential for healthy development during critical growth periods, such as pregnancy, infancy and early childhood. For more information or to apply for WIC, visit www.mfhs.org, or call 1-800-367-6347. 

WIC is the nation’s premier public health and nutrition education program with an overall goal to influence lifetime nutrition through positive health behaviors.  In addition to the new eWIC card which can be used to purchase  nutritious foods, WIC participants receive nutrition education, breastfeeding support, immunization record checks, iron deficiency screening, farmers’ market vouchers and referrals for other health and social services. 

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2020

This year, World Breastfeeding Week is focusing on the impact of breastfeeding on the environment and the importance of taking action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people. Breastfeeding is a prime example of the deep connection between human health and natures ecosystems. Not only are the benefits of breast milk significant for infants, it is also significant for the planet. Breast milk is natural, renewable, and environmentally friendly. Breastfeeding creates less waste for landfills, and it uses less energy than the production of formula. By supporting breastfeeding, you are also helping create a healthier planet. 

Maternal and Family Health Services promotes breastfeeding as the most perfect infant food and encourages new mothers to choose breastfeeding if possible. Breast milk has proven to have significant advantages for new mothers as well as infants. The MFHS WIC Nutrition Program offers valuable information and resources for breastfeeding mothers. WIC staff cover topics such as the advantages of breastfeeding for mother and baby, how to breastfeed, helpful hints, problem solving techniques and referrals for further help. For moms who are interested in breastfeeding, or need more support please call us and our staff will be able to help!