At San Juan Basin Public Health’s (SJBPH) Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), first-time moms are empowered to transform their lives and create better futures for themselves and their babies. NFP works by having specially-trained registered nurses regularly visit first-time moms, starting early in pregnancy and continuing through to the child’s second birthday. Women enrolled in NFP must meet income qualifications.
NFP nurses serve as guides to first-time moms as they navigate the social, emotional, and physical changes of pregnancy. Additionally, the nurses can assist pregnant moms with improving their diet and exercise, decreasing stress, and accessing support through family, friends, and community resources. Moms can also receive education about topics such as breastfeeding, childbirth, and symptoms to report to their prenatal care provider.
After the baby is born, a NFP family continues visits with their personal nurse, receiving information and support on topics such as nutrition, developmental milestones, activities to do with their infants and toddlers, child behavior, and sleep concerns. NFP nurses can also support clients and family members in goals such as going back to school or work.
A recent NFP graduate describes her experience:
“I found out I was pregnant mid-January 2016. I had no idea how to be a mom. I was alone, single, and terrified. Danette and NFP walked me through all of my concerns and fears. She taught me about child nutrition, personal care, infant care, and child/infant development. She gave me suggestions on games and activities I could play with my daughter, and she also provided age appropriate books and puzzles from time to time. The confidence I gained with working with Danette and NFP is immeasurable. The support and guidance offered through this program was so useful and helpful for my child and me, I would absolutely recommend this program to all first-time mothers.”
The strength of the Nurse-Family Partnership program is seen in the impacts on the families that graduate. The program has shown over 40 years of proven results demonstrated by research showing the NFP model’s success in helping moms have healthier pregnancies, improving child health and development, and improving the economic self-sufficiency of the families served. The program has also shown other significant health results including fewer closely-spaced subsequent pregnancies, less child abuse and neglect, fewer child injuries, improved school readiness, reduced use of welfare and other government assistance, higher employment rates for the mothers, and increased presence of fathers and partner stability.
Additionally, the program saves money. One recent analysis found that though the program costs only $1.6 billion, it will save the federal government $3 billion in spending on things like Medicaid and food stamps by 2031.
It seems that the effectiveness of the NFP model lies in the strong emphasis on the stable, trusting relationship between the nurse and the mother, over 2 ½ years. This relationship provides support, safety, and accountability as the women set and make progress toward health and parenting goals. At SJBPH, NFP moms have also had the opportunity to meet each other at social gatherings two times a year hosted by NFP nurses. These gatherings allow families to share experiences, to learn from one another, and to develop new relationships.
Since 1996 Nurse-Family Partnership has served over 280,000 families in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and five Tribal communities. NFP programs are now established in 558 counties and the program is also being replicated internationally, including in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands. Locally, in 2017 San Juan Basin Public Health Nurse-Family Partnership served 108 new moms with 819 home visits in La Plata, Archuleta, and San Juan counties.
Better worlds start with great mothers and SJBPH’s Nurse-Family Partnership program aims to achieve this by positively transforming the lives of babies, mothers, and families.
Danette Jackson is SJBPH’s Nurse-Family Partnership Supervisor