Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Nurse-Family Partnership for first-time moms and their babies

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A program designed to help low-income, first-time moms and their babies is coming to northern Idaho.
The Nurse-Family Partnership is expected to start in Kootenai and Shoshone counties within the coming year, thanks to a collaboration between the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Spokane Regional Health District, which offers the same program in Washington.

Nurse-Family Partnership®, a maternal and early childhood health program, fosters long-term success for first-time moms, their babies, and society.

Nurse-Family Partnership's maternal health program introduces vulnerable first-time parents to caring maternal and child health nurses. This program allows nurses to deliver the support first-time moms need to have a healthy pregnancy, become knowledgeable and responsible parents, and provide their babies with the best possible start in life. The relationship between mother and nurse provides the foundation for strong families, and lives are forever changed – for the better.

The program allows public health nurses to visit interested first-time expectant moms every week or every other week until the baby is born. After the birth, the nurses continue regular visits until the child turns 2.
Officials said that since the program began in Spokane, Wash., in 2008, it has served 431 families, with 174 families currently enrolled.
In Idaho, the program is funded through a federal grant.
Laura DeBoer, health program manager for Idaho's maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting program, said contracting with the established program in Spokane will give Idaho's program a better chance of success. In Spokane, officials credit the program with improving prenatal health, reducing childhood injuries, increasing the time between the births of first and second children, increasing maternal employment rates and helping get kids ready for school.
"It's just amazing, some of the changes that can occur in these families," said Susan Schultz, who runs the Spokane health district's Nurse-Family Partnership.
Laura Nash, a 25-year-old single mother in Spokane, is the first graduate of the program there. Three years ago, she was a high school graduate working as a cashier and was about to become a mother for the first time. Nash was scared because she didn't know where her life was headed, and she feared she would ruin her child's life.
Today, she is working as a certified nursing assistant and studying toward becoming a nurse like her "mentor for life" — Rhonda Shrivastava, her nurse-family partner. Her 3-year-old daughter, Arianna, is "a very amazing, precocious, wonderful little girl who's going to go far. I wanted my daughter to have a better life, but I didn't know how."


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