Nurse-Family Partnership - with your support - helps to improve the live of babies and their mothers in many ways; but did you know Nurse-Family Partnership has been proven to reduce child abuse and neglect by 48%?
Major emphasis is being put on the reduction of child abuse and neglect throughout the United States and just this year so far Colorado Governor Hickenlooper announced that Colorado was improving the front end of Colorado’s child protection system through many areas including new prevention strategies to assist families before they become part of the system. Nurse-Family Partnership was cited by Hickenlooper as one of the programs identified to enhance collaboration throughout the state.
In Seattle, City Councilmember Tim Burgess said that by offering help to poor, first-time moms through Nurse-Family Partnership, “we’re going to lower crime, we’ll impact the economic stability of that little family and we’re going to improve education and safety for the children.”
Another example is a quote from child and youth advocate Michael Feigelson talking about violence in our society; "If we want to transform our collective outrage and sadness into hope and make progress on reducing violence in America, we should start with ideas that have produced results and build from there.
Part of the plan needs to be about changing aspects of the way we support families to raise their children. This means starting at the beginning. One example of how to do this is the Nurse Family Partnership, a program that has provided intensive support to first-time at-risk mothers in the United States for over three decades. The program teaches mothers (and fathers) to avoid behaviors that harm their babies and support them to develop resources and skills to be better parents."
These are just three examples of the many people and communities who are placing a priority on prevention and the outcomes Nurse-Family Partnership has been proven to impact in order to improve the baby's health and wellbeing, reduce costs to communities and strengthen families.
Thank you for your support!
Your support of Nurse-Family Partnership helps to fight childhood poverty in the United States. Attached to this report is a great article about the struggles of one family in Utah and how they are supported by Nurse-Family Partnership. This is an example of one out of more than 23,000 Nurse-Family Partnership families across 42 states that are really trying to provide a good start in life to their baby.
Every year, more than 500,000 babies across the United States are born into low-income homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Studies by the Department of Health and Human Services show that low-income children are more likely to suffer from physical abuse and neglect, have parents in conflict with the law, be exposed to toxic chemicals and experience hunger. They are also more likely to struggle in school, to repeat grades and have behavioral problems.
All of these stressors of being born into poverty are addressed by Nurse-Family Partnership and your generosity and advocacy of NFP helps make it possible to serve more and more of these families every year.
Sure, Nurse-Family Partnership is known as a maternal and child health program, and first-time mothers enroll in the program to receive nurse home visits. But we know how much fathers matter, too. That’s why Nurse-Family Partnership encourages expectant fathers to be involved in the nurse home visits, whenever possible.
Independent research makes the risks clear: children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And when fathers are present in a healthy home environment, good things happen: researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that low-income or high-risk children who have fathers in their lives learn better, have higher self-esteem, and show fewer signs of depression than children without fathers.
Nurse-Family Partnership can make a difference. Research published in JAMA® reports families in the program have a 46-percent increase in father presence in the household. It is just one of Nurse-Family Partnership’s positive, documented outcomes that come when first-time moms and dads learn to be competent, caring parents to their child.
Our goal is to help first-time parents succeed, so that the whole family is healthy and strong. Following is a story of just one of our many families who are working hard to succeed: Vickie Ghent has been a nurse for 30 years, including 10 years serving as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. Today, she works for the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) in Dallas, Texas, helping low-income, first-time mothers cope with all the challenges of raising a baby. You might think that her work in Texas is a far cry from her experiences in the bush, but Vickie will be the first to tell you: nothing could have prepared her better.
In fact, Vickie feels particularly attuned to all the obstacles faced by low-income families in America today. They don’t have the time (or often the land) to grow their own food, so they have to buy it. They have to pay for transportation, because their daily tasks go well beyond the walking-distance boundaries of a small village. They must also pay for electricity, housing, health care and other basic needs. And all of this becomes even more complicated and expensive when they have another mouth to feed.
Antoinette, pregnant at 18, personifies the young women for whom these simple basics are truly obstacles, and she was one of Vickie’s earliest clients. When she discovered she was pregnant, Antoinette was scared and had few places to turn for help. Fortunately, she learned about the Nurse-Family Partnership from a visit to her local WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office, where she was introduced to Vickie for the first time. Antoinette’s timing could hardly have been more fortuitous: she was nearing the enrollment cut-off point for the local program.
For their first NFP visit, Vickie traveled to West Dallas where Antoinette was living with her mother, her younger brother and her aunt in low-income HUD housing. The home was cluttered and so dark inside that Vickie could barely see her paperwork in front of her. But Antoinette’s personality provided a light of its own, and she was full of questions and eager to learn.
Antoinette had just graduated from high school but still didn’t have a job. She expressed concern about her mother’s constant financial troubles. She suffered from asthma and asked how it might affect her pregnancy. She confessed to being terrified of needles and wanted to know how much labor would hurt. “She really needs help,” Vickie thought as she took detailed notes in her client file. Fortunately for Antoinette, the help she needed was exactly what NFP provides.
After a few weeks, Carles, Antoinette’s boyfriend and the baby’s father, began attending the sessions with Vickie. Skeptical at first, he quickly warmed to “Miss Vickie.” He shared the intimate details of his own childhood during NFP’s standard “life history” discussion. Carles was the youngest of 20 children his father had sired with various women. His mother was a drug addict who once sold Carles’ only pair of jeans for drugs. He told Vickie that he was worried about how to be a father because he didn’t have any role models. “I want to be there for my family,” he said.
Despite their positive attitudes and diligent attention to all of Vickie’s advice, Antoinette and Carles lurched from one crisis to another. Antoinette’s mother periodically threw her out of the house. Carles spent more than a few nights sleeping in his car. Antoinette had to give up the temp job she found because of frequent asthma attacks. And when the couple saved enough to buy a car, they drove it off the lot only to have it break down, leading to the first of many costly repairs.
Through it all, Vickie remained a constant, reassuring presence in their lives. Whenever Carles called to say, “Miss Vickie, I don’t know what to do,” she always had calming advice. She helped the couple find another car, brought them to the Medicaid office to get their health insurance sorted out, and scheduled some of their meetings at McDonald’s so Carles could use the free Internet access to look for jobs online. She even used her small discretionary NFP allowance to buy Carles a new pair of jeans. “Remember,” she would say as a visit was ending, “you can always call me and I’ll call back. Everything is going to be all right.”
When Antoinette and Carles’ son Carnell was born, he was a healthy 8-pound baby. Antoinette and Carles continued their meetings with Vickie where she would educate them on good parenting skills, monitored Carnell’s progress and continued to support the couple’s day-today well being. While Antoinette was a natural mother, Carles worried that Carnell didn’t seem to like him even though Carles adored his new son. He confessed to Vickie that he thought he was doing something wrong and even felt jealous of the closeness Antoinette enjoyed during breastfeeding.
Vickie discussed all of this openly with Carles. “Your feelings are perfectly normal,” she reassured him. “Be patient. The more you play with Carnell and interact with him, the more he’ll get used to you. And don’t worry,” she added with a laugh, “He’s going to like you one day, and one day after that, he’ll like you more than he likes his mother. He won’t leave you alone!” Beyond comforting Carles, Vickie taught him some of the basics of fatherhood like how to hold the baby, how to feed him, and how to change a diaper.
Two years and countless diapers later, Carles and Antoinette were ready to graduate from the NFP program. Vickie was tremendously proud of their progress. Antoinette was working as a receptionist at a nonprofit organization and Carles had a job at Wal-Mart. Antoinette’s mom had allowed Carles to move into their home, and the couple was planning a June wedding. Antoinette was enrolling in college to get her bachelor’s degree in science and Carles’ had set a goal to get his bachelor’s when Antoinette was finished. They had begun saving to move into a place of their own. Carnell was in a daycare program that he loved and where his teachers loved him, too. “Perhaps a little too much,” Carles told Vickie after the daycare staff sent Carnell home with candy – again.
Today, Antoinette and Carles have graduated from Nurse-Family Partnership, but remain in touch with Vickie. In fact, Antoinette recently recommended a friend to Vickie and the NFP program and occasionally “crashes” their appointments so she can catch up with her former nurse. Antoinette loves knowing that Vickie is still in her life – but she also knows that Vickie has given her and Carles the skills to persevere and succeed on their own.
Vickie admits she was worried about her clients at the beginning, but she never doubted they would succeed. One day, just before their graduation from NFP, Carles showed that he knew it too. “You know, Miss Vickie,” he told her, “We don’t have anything bad to tell you today. We’re doing okay! We can actually say we’re going to make it. We’re really going to make it.”
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.
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