Having a baby can be a challenging and isolating experience, especially for first-time mothers living in poverty. Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is a national evidence based, home-visiting program with deep roots in Pennsylvania. It is dedicated to supporting women and teens to promote healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes, improve children’s health and development and families’ economic self-sufficiency.
The Delaware County NFP program receives grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Over the last eleven years, it has served close to 1,000 women, families and children in Delaware County.
The median age of NFP mothers in Delaware County is 20. Approximately 92 percent are unmarried and about 60 percent have completed high school or a GED.
How the program works
Bachelor’s prepared registered nurses begin making regular home visits to women early in their pregnancies and continue until the baby is two years old.
Nurses pay close attention to the physical and mental health of the mother and ensure that all of her basic needs are being met. They educate their clients and encourage positive health habits. The mother’s health is assessed at each home visit and she is encouraged to attend all of her prenatal care provider appointments. After the baby is born, nurses continue to support and educate parents on their baby’s health and development, attachment and bonding and positive parenting. The nurses also work with moms to set goals for economic self-sufficiency by encouraging them to develop a vision for their future, continue their education or find work.
Research shows that the transformational relationship that develops over the two years between the nurse and the mother helps boost the mother’s confidence, improves birth outcomes and helps to break the cycle of poverty. To learn more please view the national NFP video.
Families participating in NFP have access to the Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) attorneys if civil legal needs arise and Moving Beyond Depression for eligible women diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
In 2018, NFP received a grant from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to extend NFP services to women with Opioid Use Disorder/Substance Use Disorder (OUD/SUD). The program offers weekly Parent Cafés for parents struggling with substance use disorder to come together to share and support one another with structure and focus on five protective factors. Families do not have to be participants in the NFP program to attend. Parent Cafes meet every Monday at the foundation’s office in Chester from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Please reach out to Ashlyn Wittman for more information.
In Pennsylvania, NFP has a presence in 44 of the state’s 67 counties, providing assistance to more than 3,400 families, which is more than in any other state. Nationally, the program is helping families in 42 states.
The program is widely adopted because it works. In at least one of NFP’s randomized research trials, the following results have been observed:
- 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect;
- 56 percent reduction in emergency room visits for accidents and poisonings;
- 67 percent reduction in behavioral and intellectual problems by age 6.
NFP also saves money. A study by the RAND Corporation found that $5.70 is returned to a community for every dollar it invests in the program.
NFP has extended its reach by collaborating with a wide range of advisory programs in Delaware County, including Healthy Chester Coalition, Communities That Care Coalition, Neighbor to Neighbor Coming Together Communities Coalition, Healthcare and Domestic Violence Task Force and others.
The program is a success story in the county, and as it continues to grow, proponents say it will play a critical role in preventing infant deaths and preterm births, as well as reducing domestic violence and youth crime typically associated with poverty.
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