Imagine you are pregnant with your first baby and you have little or no support, you barely have enough money for rent and food, let alone a new baby – and you have a million questions! Now imagine that there is a person ready to help you through ALL of that. Enter Nurse-Family Partnership and your free personal nurse!
Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) helps change the future for the most vulnerable babies born into poverty by equipping the best person for the job, mom, to become a competent, confident parent. NFP works by partnering specially trained nurses with moms – nurses regularly visit moms-to-be, starting early in the pregnancy, continuing through the child’s second birthday. Over the course of 1,000 days – from early pregnancy to baby’s second birthday – each mom has a trusted resource who helps build her confidence and provide the tools she needs to give her baby a healthy start. Even better, mom and baby are prepared for a bright future with opportunities for success. The community benefits, too. Every dollar invested in NFP saves $7.20 in future costs for the highest-risk families served1.
What happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime. To successfully manage our community’s future, we must recognize problems and address them before they get worse. In early childhood, research on the biology of stress shows how major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse, or neglect can weaken developing brain architecture and permanently set the body’s stress response system on high alert. Science also shows that providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships in the earliest years of life can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health.
Eau Claire County is one of three counties in the Western Wisconsin Nurse-Family Partnership Consortium and is proud of its ongoing commitment to offering this community health program with ore than 40 years of evidence showing significant improvements in the health and lives of first-time moms and their children living in poverty.
In 2015, with funding from the United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, we began offering this service. We have continued to serve our families and enroll new ones throughout the COVID-19 response; our nurses have pivoted to delivering this service via telehealth. Although it has been challenging, the relationship formed between the nurse and mother has proven to be the essential element in continued engagement and support of families.
HOW IT HAPPENS
Expert: NFP moms receive care, information, and advice from nurses specially trained in pregnancy, early development, home visiting, and the very unique NFP proven model of nursing care.
Proven: The most extensive and compelling evidence and outcomes in the field – three randomized, controlled trials demonstrate that our work results in healthier pregnancies; reduction in child abuse and neglect; improvements in cognitive and language development; fewer childhood injuries; and many more cost-saving outcomes to government and society.
Intensive: Our specially trained expert nurses offer weekly or bi-weekly in-home, high-touch visits.
Timely: In the first few years of life, 700 to 1,000 new neural connections form every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. Pregnancy outcomes are heavily influenced by prenatal care and a mother’s actions towards her baby in the first 1,000 days from early pregnancy to baby’s second birthday.
“There is a magic window during pregnancy,” said Dr. David Olds, founder of Nurse-Family Partnership and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado. “It’s a time when the desire to be a good mother and raise a healthy, happy child creates motivation to overcome incredible obstacles including poverty, instability or abuse with the help of a well-trained nurse.”
NEW MOMS WANTED!
We are enrolling new moms! If you or someone you know meets the eligibility criteria, please call us!
– Are you eligible for BadgerCare or WIC?
– Are you a first-time mom?
– Are you less than 29 weeks pregnant?
Eau Claire is also involved in a national pilot research project for Nurse-Family Partnership, which enables us to offer the program to moms with more than one child if they have significant health concerns or other social barriers. Please call for more details!
A PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCE
The community and warmth of the Nurse-Family Partnership offers a valuable sense of support and comfort that helps our clients to self-motivate, navigate personal struggles in a healthy manner, and improve their quality of life. Below are some statements from our clients:
“I like that you listen to the things that have happened to me and give me the tools to help me.”
“(Nurse-Family Partnership) is about discovering yourself.”
“I like best about our visits (is) being able to talk about my feelings and what’s bothering me in an honest environment.”
For questions or more information about Nurse-Family Partnership, or to refer yourself or someone you know please contact the NFP supervisor at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department by calling (715) 495-1149.
To become involved in community efforts to support the program, please donate to United Way and refer women to the program!
Rebecca Gorski is a public health nurse for the Nurse-Family Partnership program at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. She is passionate about empowering women to succeed in being mothers and in accomplishing all their life goals.