Nurse-Family Partnership

Nurse-Family Partnership's mission is to empower first-time mothers living in poverty to successfully change their lives and the lives of their children through evidence-based nurse home visiting. The goals of the Nurse-Family Partnership program are: 1. Improve pregnancy outcomes by helping women engage in good preventive health practices, including thorough prenatal care from their healthcare providers, improving their diets, and reducing their use of cigarettes, alcohol and illegal substances; 2. Improve child health and development by helping parents provide responsible and competent care; and 3. Improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents develop a vision fo...
Oct 1, 2012

Helping new families advocate for themselves!

Lum and Min with their son, Bless
Lum and Min with their son, Bless

One of the goals of Nurse-Family Partnership is to encourage and teach the moms and families to be the best possible advocates for their babies and themselves that they can be.  Your support of Nurse-Family Partnership helps examples such as Lum's story, below, become possible.

Lum was just beginning her new life in the United States when she found out she was pregnant. She and her boyfriend Min, both refugees from Burma, would have their first child together. It was another great challenge in their young lives.

Lum had fled Burma out of fear of the militant groups, and had lost her mom to a violent death in Burma. She was thankful to be in the United States, but she now had only her sister and brother as family to turn to in Des Moines as she and Min started their own family.

Then a local healthcare provider referred her to the Nurse-Family Partnership program at Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa.

“As refugees, we really need someone to be a guide for us. I didn’t know how to take care of a baby, and the culture in my home country is different than the culture in this country,” said Lum.

Because Lum spoke little English, Marcia’s first home visit with Lum was done through a Chin-speaking interpreter. Marcia saw a timid and reserved young woman. “We really needed my nurse Marcia,” said Lum. “She could see how I lived – what I needed. When Marcia comes to my home, I feel more comfortable for talking.”

Lum relied on Marcia to help her fill out her Medicaid enrollment forms, decipher mail from state agencies and call her doctor. Lum was lost in a new country without the knowledge of how to access resources. “I had to help her advocate for herself,” Marcia said.

“Because I didn’t have a parent in the U.S., I felt really lonely,” Lum continued. “I didn’t know anything about being a mother. Marcia was like my sister, parent and my wonderful teacher. I was so happy when I met with Marcia. I could ask her everything I needed. I asked her so many questions.”

As the home visits with Marcia continued, Lum stopped using the interpreter and practiced her English. And, she slowly opened up when Marcia asked one special question: what was Lum’s heart’s desire? Lum said she wanted to have her very own hair salon.

“It was my dream to have my own salon!” Lum recalled. “I thought when I became pregnant maybe it’s too much to want my own salon. When I told Marcia, she convinced me that I could get my dream. She made me feel more comfortable.”

Marcia encouraged her to follow her dream by taking classes at the Iowa School of Beauty.

“I saw many strengths in Lum,” Marcia said. “She was industrious and hardworking. And she had a desire to succeed and the benefit of a wonderful support system.”

Lum was trying to do it all while being pregnant, and it wasn’t easy. She attended school for eight hours a day, and then would continue on to work evenings at a chain store until 11 p.m. Adding to her load, her pregnancy was making her nauseous and tired. As they watched her try to cope, her family and Min decided they would take on additional responsibilities to help Lum concentrate on graduating and allow her to stop working.

She was determined to graduate from beauty school, but had her final few weeks of pregnancy to go. With her graduation planned just over a week before her due date, Lum knew timing was everything. She had to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy to be able to attend all the classes needed for graduation. With guidance from her nurse Marcia, support from her family and a bit of luck, Lum finished her classes before giving birth to a beautiful, healthy son. Lum and Min named him Bless – for the blessing he adds to their lives.

Marcia says the Nurse-Family Partnership aims for three main goals for every client: healthy pregnancy and delivery, improved child health and development, and economic self-sufficiency. Lum is achieving all three.

“I’ve gotten to see her inner strengths grow and blossom as I’ve watched her evolve and transform into a strong, confident mom,” said Marcia.
“Marcia gives me strength,” Lum remarked. “She was my guide to become more powerful. Marcia is my light.”

As Bless approaches his second birthday, Lum no longer needs public support from WIC or Medicaid. With her partner Min to do the electrical wiring and her family and Marcia connecting her with resources, Lum has made her dream come true. She is now is the owner of The Amazing Beauty Salon. She even had the self-reliance to develop a business plan and to take out a small business loan. Lum’s salon is attracting customers and she has hired her first employee.

“The Nurse-Family Partnership program really helped her to be self-sufficient,” Marcia said. Just like the name of her salon, Marcia describes Lum as truly amazing – an excellent mother and skilled business woman. No longer the shy young woman Marcia first met, Lum now feels empowered to advocate for herself and go after what she wants.

Lum and Min are now expecting the birth of their second child. They feel ready to grow their family and they want Bless to have a sibling companion in life. Lum says she now has the knowledge, thanks to Marcia, to be a confident mom.

When asked how her life has changed, Lum exclaimed, “I changed a lot. I know myself. I now feel comfortable with my life. Before I thought maybe I can’t get it. Now, I know I can get it and I did it!”

 


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Jun 29, 2012

Mother's Day is Everyday!

Mother's Day is something Nurse-Family Partnership celebrates more than 22,000 times every year - that's the numbers of moms and babies we are currently serving in 40 states across the country!  We couldn't have that many celebrations without support from donors like you!

Here's the story of one of the many moms we have celebrated:

Tony is a sweet little two-year-old who recently became a big brother. His parents, Holly and Alan, are loving, attentive and well-prepared for the future. They know how to advocate for Tony’s needs, and where to get answers to parenting questions.

 Not long ago, all of this was nothing more than a fantasy.

 Before Tony was born, Holly was desperately seeking stability in her life. She had dropped out of school with only a ninth grade education and had moved too many times in recent years to count. At age 23, Holly returned to her hometown of Syracuse, New York because her mother was ill with cancer. Unable to find a suitable apartment with her mom, Holly temporarily moved in with some friends.

 Nearly everyone in the house smoked cigarettes, including Holly. Her home life was characterized by frequent arguments and bouts of depression. She tried to find a better job than the one she had in the food service industry, but despite a strong work ethic, her lack of education was consistently a barrier to getting hired.

 Then, on top of all this, one day Holly learned that she was pregnant. Her first reaction, as she later recalled: “I can use all the help I can get.”

 Help soon arrived in the form of Ann Rogers, a Nurse-Family Partnership nurse home visitor. “Annie just showed up out of the blue one day, saying my doctor’s office had sent her to talk with me,” remembers Holly. As the women chatted about the free, voluntary program, Holly realized that enrolling in Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) could really help. Along with many years of experience as a registered nurse, Ann brought the comfort and reassurance that Holly needed to learn parenting skills and gain confidence in using them.

 Holly immediately demonstrated a strong commitment to the program, and showed a great concern for her unborn baby’s physical health and well-being. So did Alan, Holly’s boyfriend and the father of the baby, who was determined to remain a part of Holly’s life. Ann began working with both parents-to-be on how to create a safe and nurturing environment for their new baby. Holly quit smoking while she was pregnant, and she and Alan moved into a two-bedroom apartment. Both of them made sure to keep the apartment clean and well-suited for a new baby to live and play.

 “Holly was always really good at goal-setting, but she would often get caught up in the barriers that existed in her life, and feel stuck,” Ann recalls. “As her nurse, I often served as her cheerleader to help her get ‘unstuck.’ Now, she digs herself out of this mental rut much more quickly.”

 While Holly had been self-sufficient from an early age, she now had to learn how to take care of someone else. Enter one of NFP’s goals: to help connect first-time moms with community resources that can help empower them as new mothers, such as job training and free or low-cost child health insurance. “Before I met Annie, I had never heard about any programs that could help me,” says Holly. “I didn’t know what to do, or who to talk to—but I do now.”

“I think one of the big things that Holly realized is, sometimes you need a little support from one person in order to get a lot of support from others,” Ann says.

 Holly’s parenting skills were also a work in progress. “Holly had babysat before, and she knew about how to do certain tasks like diapering and feeding a baby, but she learned more about the ‘why’ for these things through NFP,” says Ann. “For example, Holly loves to play with Tony, but now she also understands that playing with her son has meaning for his future mental and physical development.”

 The young mother soon realized that one of her favorite parts of the Nurse-Family Partnership program was the dependability of the regularly scheduled visits from Ann, and the ability to pick up the phone and call the nurse if an urgent concern arose. In other words, Ann’s presence in Holly’s life provided stability at a critical time. “I really remember the comfort of having that constant with Annie. If I had any questions, I knew she would come,” Holly says.

 Ann worked with Holly and Alan to help them understand the natural development of their baby, and assuage the many fears that arise among new parents. For example, when Tony was still not sitting up at seven months, Holly grew concerned. Ann explained to her that children develop at different rates and that Tony was still well within the accepted range.

 Sure enough, just over one month later, Tony was sitting up. At age 11 months, he was walking, and by his first birthday he was running. “Now, we can’t stop him from moving!” Holly says with a laugh.

 For Holly and many moms like her, the Nurse-Family Partnership program was more than just learning the skills of how to be a successful parent. Holly and Ann shared a special bond that was reinforced when Holly’s mother lost her two-year battle against cancer, a little more than a year after Tony was born. Around the same time, Ann was also battling cancer, and had to stop working with Holly for about six months while she received treatment.

When Ann returned to work, Holly specifically requested that Ann be reassigned to her and Tony. Holly was still grieving after the loss of her mother, and it was her relationship with Ann that helped her process many of those feelings. “Holly is a very private person, but she trusted me and was willing to open up,” Ann says. “Our relationship allowed this to happen.”

 Now, with the self-assurance that she gained from NFP, Holly has begun creating a brighter future for both herself and her family. Alan and Holly are still together; they have recently had a second child, Angelina, and the parents are already using many of the lessons they learned from Ann when Tony was born. Alan works full-time, and is very involved with caring for the children.

 Holly has great passion for cooking and baking, and has hopes of becoming a pastry chef someday—but she also recognizes the shorter-term importance of formal education, and is taking steps toward obtaining her GED. Holly also wants to make sure that as her children grow older, they recognize the value of a good education. “I don’t want them to think it is okay to live their lives without going to school,” she says.

 But perhaps the most important goal that Holly has set is to be there for Tony and Angelina.

 “I don’t want to ever miss putting them to sleep at night,” Holly says. “I don’t want to ever miss helping them with whatever they need. I just want to make sure that I am a good role model for them both.”

 This Nurse-Family Partnership program is implemented through the Onondaga County Health Department located in Syracuse, New York.

Jun 28, 2012

The Power of Nursing

In May the New York Times carried an article by David Bornstein called the 'Power of Nursing' - here's how it begins:

"In 2010, 5.9 million children were reported as abused or neglected in the United States.  If you were a policy maker and you knew a program that could cut this figure in half, what would you do?  What if you could reduce the number of babies or toddlers hospitalized for accidents or poisonings by more than half? Or provide a 5 to 7 point IQ boost to children born to the most vulnerable mothers?

Well there is a way.  These and other striking results have been documented in studies of a program called the Nurse-Family Partnership, or NFP, which arranges for registered nurses to make regular home visits to first-time low-income or vulnerable mothers, starting early in their pregnancies and continuing until the child is 2."

Nurse-Family Partnership is grateful for coverage and advocacy such as this.  Our success in gaining more champions across the country is due, at least in part, to all of you who have supported Nurse-Family Partnership and we greatly appreciate your support and hope you will continue to learn about, talk about and support NFP.

We hope you have a happy and safe summer!

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