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...
Apr 9, 2012

Changing Lives - One Family at a Time

Crystal, Torrian and Kelvin
Crystal, Torrian and Kelvin

   Nurse-Family Partnership empowers thousands of low-income, first-time families to create better lives for their babies and themselves.  Your support helps make this happen!  Following is just one of the many success stories demonstrating the power of Nurse-Family Partnership. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A family photo of Crystal, her boyfriend Kelvin and their son Torrian is worth so much more. The picture shows a smiling Crystal gazing up proudly at baby Torrian, who is being lifted into the sky by Kelvin, his dad. Torri, as they call him, is looking directly into the camera, smiling brightly, with a blur of trees, grass and sunlight behind him.   

  

 

 

 The high school nurse gives Crystal a pregnancy test, which turns out positive. She immediately refers Crystal to her colleague Debbie Dulaney, a registered nurse and a veteran with the State of Louisiana Office of Public  

 

  

 

Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program. Debbie sets up her first meeting with Crystal and drives to where Crystal is living in cramped quarters with her aunt, uncle and their children. She knocks on the door and is greeted by a teenage girl who emanates warmth. “I’m Crystal,” she says with a wide open smile, adding “and you’re prompt!” Immediately, Debbie can see this young woman is unique. In her experience, most pregnant teenagers aren’t very concerned with promptness. The two women bond quickly. While telling Debbie her story, Crystal reveals that she discovered her pregnancy exactly one month after her mother passed away. “I’m an only child by my mom,” says Crystal. “When I lost her, it was like I lost a part of myself.” Debbie confides that she lost her mother at a young age, too. “I understand what you’re going through,” Debbie replies gently. “But it will make you a stronger person. Once you get through the first year without her—through Christmas, your birthday—everything is going to get easier.”


 

 

 

 

Each time Crystal and Debbie meet, weekly at first and  then bi-weekly as Crystal’s due date approaches, their bond grows stronger. Crystal may be just a growing teenager, but she is a enthusiastic client. She is eager to learn about what foods to eat, how best to sleep with her growing belly and how to build an emotional attachment with the baby. Kelvin attends most of the meetings as well. A high school dropout, he is determined to be a good father and provide his son with every opportunity.

 In October, Crystal gives birth to Torrian and it is no surprise to Debbie that Crystal and Kelvin take quickly to their roles as parents. Crystal remains in high school while Kelvin takes care of the baby during the day. Thanks to Debbie’s guidance, they have learned how to put the baby on a schedule and provide a healthy environment— Crystal allows no smoking in the house and she checks all of Torrian’s toys for hazards like chipping paint. By the following May, Crystal and Kelvin have been in the NFP program for a full year, and they are models of the  program’s success.

 Despite this accomplishment, life remains challenging  for teenage parents with minimal family support and very little income. Despite this accomplishment, life remains challenging for teenage parents with minimal family support and very little income. In the fall, the family faces yet another crossroad when Crystal decides to enroll in college at Louisiana Tech. This requires a move to Ruston, Louisiana, about 70 miles west of Delhi. Not only will the young family have to find the resources to move, they will  also have to build a new life in a place where they have no relatives or friends to rely on.

 

 

 

Debbie is still prepared to help, because helping clients set life goals in areas like education and career are part of the NFP model. She assists the couple in planning 

the move and, when Crystal and Kelvin express concern about making appropriate friends in Ruston, Debbie even gives them some entertaining tips. She brings over a few decks of cards and teaches them how to play group games like Liverpool Rummy. Finally, she reaches out to a colleague in Ruston, Debbie Nash, who will take over as the nurse home visitor after the move. It’s a natural fit; the two nurses are already part of an NFP team that meets weekly for case conferences, so the “new Debbie” is familiar with Crystal’s story.

 

apartment. Although it is over two miles from the Louisiana Tech campus and Crystal will have to walk both ways, they are thrilled that Torrian now has his own bedroom. It’s adorable—a little junior bed, a round table with two chairs—all decorated in brilliant red, yellow and blue. On her second visit, Debbie brings her camera and Torrian poses for her in his new bedroom. He perches on his bed with a huge smile, holding up an index finger to show that he is one.

 

pulls out a little book she has made for her son. Even though she is walking back and forth to school, attending classes and doing homework for her double major in psychology and journalism, she has made time to create a homemade alphabet book for Torrian. “I’m smart,” says Crystal proudly, “and I want my son to be smart, too.”

When Torrian reaches his second birthday, marking the completion of the NFP program, Debbie Nash is 

on leave recovering from shoulder surgery. This means that Debbie Dulaney will be reunited with the couple to complete their last session. Even after months without seeing his original NFP nurse, Torrian runs up to her immediately. The adults reminisce, play with Torrian, laugh and talk, and cry when it’s time to say goodbye.

 

Debbie Dulaney drives away with a feeling of tremendous joy, knowing that Crystal and Kelvin have taken advantage of every opportunity provided by the Nurse-Family Partnership, beating incredible odds and 

accomplishing so much. Inside the apartment, Crystal sits on the couch, flipping through the pages of her favorite
 

 

 

 

 In their first meeting with Debbie Nash, Crystal and Kelvin are incredibly proud to show off their new two bedroom

 

 When Torrian is 21 months old, Debbie administers a language screening and finds that Torrian is well above average. When Debbie expresses her admiration, Crystal 

 

 

Links:

Jan 20, 2012

A Hug Can Go a Long Way

Nurse-Family Partnership begins to visit vulnerable, first-time moms during pregnancy - this is in order to work with the mom to have the healthiest pregnancy possible and to reduce the risks of preterm birth.

"Perhaps the most widespread peril children face isn't guns, swimming pools or speeding cars. Rather, scientists are suggesting that it may be "toxic stress" early in life, or even before birth." - Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Article, "This Poverty Solution Starts with a Hug" January 8, 2012.

Check out the link below for the full story - your support of Nurse-Family Partnership helps to reduce the "toxic stress' in some of the highest risk families.

Links:

Jan 20, 2012

Every Mom Deserves a Good Start

Holly and Nely
Holly and Nely

Nurse-Family Partnership strives to give vulnerable, first-time moms the best start possible.  Here is an example of how your support helps give these moms a good start:

As Holly Poole scans the file of her newest client, Nely, she looks carefully for any red flags. Drug use? The report says no. Drinking? Another no. Holly feels some relief, but when she scans further, she sees it: red flag number one. Newly pregnant Nely is just 14 years old.

 

 

Driving through the outskirts of Philadelphia to Nely’s home, Holly is concerned but optimistic. After seven years with Nurse-Family Partnership, she has a laser focus on goals for each young client: a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and development into a confident young woman with plans for her future.

 

 

Holly knows that guiding Nely through her pregnancy and the first two years of motherhood will be only part of her assignment. She must also acknowledge that Nely will deal with pressures about continuing her education, relationships with boys, self-image and a host of other issues relevant to young teens. Holly wonders how Nely will handle these issues while also facing the stresses of pregnancy and motherhood.

 

At this first meeting, Nely sits quietly at the kitchen table. She is young and looks it, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. It is clear from her downcast eyes and silence that she is shy. Terrified may be a better word.

During their 90-minute introductory meeting, Holly does most of the talking, asking questions to get a fix on Nely’s health, family structure, relationships and interest in schoolwork.

Nely sits next to her mother, who works six days a week at a big-box store and had to request time off – no small thing – to attend this meeting. She was upset about the pregnancy at first, seeing it as another mouth to feed, but seems to have come around a bit. Nely has questions swirling in her head and Holly seems easy to talk to, so she decides she wants Holly to be her Nurse Home Visitor. Nely promises to abide by the program’s rules, such as “I will always call in advance to cancel any meetings I can’t attend.” Her relationship with Holly is now official.

Every other week, Holly and Nely meet for one hour, usually at the same kitchen table. In addition to discussing each stage of pregnancy, Holly focuses immediate attention on Nely’s plans, especially for her education. “What do you want to do after you have the baby?” Holly asks.

“He wants me to drop out of school,” Nely responds, talking about her boyfriend, the baby’s father.

“Okay…” says Holly, “But what do you want?” trying to help Nely’s focus on her own desires and needs – her heart’s desires. She knows that even a small step is significant. Her question prompts the discussion Holly frequently has with her young clients about careers and education options. She hopes Nely can envision a plan for her life beyond being a teenage mom. Holly asks gently, “If things don’t work out with your boyfriend, how might you support the baby? What kind of job would you be able to get?”

 

 

 

Nely is hesitant, so Holly continues, “Sometimes we don’t find out right away what we want to do. We just start someplace and get things going.” Nely mentions that she likes playing with kids like her nephew. Bingo, thinks Holly, a place to start. Knowing that full-time school is of little interest to Nely, she introduces Nely to the possibility of vocational-technical school in a child development career. Nely decides to enroll after giving birth to her baby.

Although the father of the baby never attends Holly and Nely’s meetings, his presence is felt. He is older than Nely and controlling. During one visit, he calls 20 times over the course of an hour. This is when Holly introduces Nely to the “cycle of abuse.” She explains the concept of emotional abuse, prompting Nely to open up.

“He says that no man will want me because I have a baby with him,” Nely confides. “He wants me to drop out of school because I’m not that smart anyway.” She even admits that he has hit her on occasion. “But I never thought of it as abuse,” says Nely. “He always apologized afterwards.” Holly focuses many subsequent sessions on strategies for building Nely’s self-esteem while learning how to communicate with her baby’s father even when his comments are negative and hurtful.

While Nely’s self-confidence is building, she is simultaneously preparing for motherhood. As it turns out, Nely is something of a natural. She begins to come out of her shell and is eager to learn everything she can. She is so eager, in fact, that Holly begins to jokingly call the beginning of their meetings “the attack.”

“I have so much to tell you!” Nely exclaims the moment Holly walks through the door for a meeting during her third trimester. “The baby is always moving! And I have a new pain. Is it a contraction?” Holly is thrilled that Nely has become the one asking the questions. The two discuss labor and delivery—Nely’s biggest fear—frequently. “Is it as bad as it looks on TV?” Nely asks.

Their discussion moves from labor and delivery to nutrition and care for the baby after birth. As the hour comes to a close, Holly shares one more tidbit. “Did you know that the baby can hear you when you talk? When your baby is born it will recognize your voice.” Nely stares at Holly with wide, amazed eyes. A spontaneous smile bursts onto her young face. Moments like this are the best part of Holly’s job.

Almost a year later, Holly and Nely are still meeting regularly at Nely’s mother’s house. Now, when Nely greets Holly at the door, she is carrying Bryanna, her nine-month-old daughter. Bryanna is a healthy, happy baby. She is shy like her mom but possesses the same wide-eyed smile.

Holly is pleased with Bryanna’s development and growth, but even more so with Nely’s. She is now in the tenth grade at a vocational technical program in early childhood development. She has ended her relationship with the baby’s father, although he still visits the baby occasionally. She’s even stepped out of her shell to have some fun, attending a recent school dance with friends.

 

Holly’s work is not done—the two will continue meeting until Bryanna is two years old. There are no guarantees that Nely will stay in school and maintain her growing self-esteem. But for now, it’s clear that the red flags in Nely’s life have transformed into green lights. With the help of Holly Poole and the Nurse-Family Partnership, Nely is on the path to becoming a successful mother, a high school graduate and a strong, confident woman.

 

 

 

 

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