When you’re about to become a first-time parent, it’s nice to have someone to turn to who is knowledgeable about pregnancy, babies and parenting.
That’s why the Nurse-Family Partnership Program is so worthwhile.
But it’s not only valuable for each expecting family, it’s important for our community.
The Nurse-Family Partnership Program has the potential to create healthier and more successful families, which are key to a stronger community.
Douglas County administers the Nurse-Family Partnership Program, but its funding comes from Medicaid, a health care program for low-income people.
News-Review reporter Carisa Cegavske offered a look at the program when she observed nurse Jill Gage make a home visit to an expectant couple in Camas Valley.
Nurses like Gage want to promote a family’s mental, physical and economic health. Since the nurses make home visits from the time a woman is in late pregnancy through her child’s 2nd birthday, there’s plenty of time to get to know each other and to make progress.
During the pregnancy, nurses monitor the pregnant mother’s health and answer her questions about what’s to come. They encourage moms to eat healthy meals, exercise and to sign up for childbirth classes. They talk about what mothers want for their children, themselves and their families in the future.
Some mothers need help with more difficult issues. Some smoke cigarettes, have drug addictions or are homeless. Making better choices for their health and the health of their babies and finding stable housing then becomes a primary goal.
Half of the women participating in the program are single mothers, so they may have less support in achieving their goals, making the nurse partnership that much more important.
The reason Medicaid funds such a program is because it has a record of success. Three decades of research in 34 states showed early assistance to first-time mothers reduces child abuse, emergency room visits and juvenile crime. A RAND Corporation study also showed it saves the government $5.70 for every dollar invested in the program.
It makes sense that pairing a nurse with a first-time mom is going to improve a child’s well-being because of the knowledge the nurse can share. It’s long been said that infants don’t come with instruction manuals, yet they are complex little creatures who require a lot of care and patience.
Regular visits with a nurse provide parents with valuable tools and information they can use in raising their children. Such support can also give them confidence and pride in being a good parent and strengthen the bonds with their children.
Parents who get such a strong start raising their children have the potential to lead themselves and their children to a brighter future.