Being a new mom isn’t easy for anyone. This reality is especially true for moms with a low income who don’t have much support. Which is why, in 1999, Public Health – Seattle & King County began the Nurse-Family Partnership program (NFP) to help set young moms and their children on a healthy path for the future.
The program provides home visits by a trained nurse to moms during pregnancy and through their child’s second year. At the heart of this program is a recognition that if we support pregnant moms and their babies from the beginning, we will prevent many of the negative outcomes that are more difficult and more costly to address. To date, Public Health has served more than 2,000 women and their babies through this program.
This national, evidence-based program pairs public health nurses with women expecting their first baby. The nurse provides home visits weekly to help the mother build good health practices, understand and support infant health and development, and work towards economic self-sufficiency. A preventative measure like this not only helps ease moms through a difficult transition – it helps kids have brighter futures too. Randomized, controlled trials of NFP indicate better pregnancy outcomes (including decreased infant mortality), child abuse and neglect prevention, improved school readiness, and a beneficial change in the mother’s life course.
Bryce and Ayana – a story of brighter futures
But no journal article can compete with the real-life stories of the mothers the program serves and their children. For Bryce Kasota, a soon-to-be nursing program graduate with a 3.9 GPA, the future wasn’t always so bright.
“I was 17 when I had my daughter and had no confidence in myself. I had no plan for the future, didn’t know where I was going. I was a high school drop-out,” Kasota says, in a recent KPLU article featuring her experience.
Then she met Dennise Jacobson, a NFP nurse who helped her leave an abusive relationship and get back in school. She also taught Kasota good nutrition, how to watch for developmental milestones, and she became a model for how to interact with her daughter, Ayana.
Jacobson and Kasota lost touch, but reconnected with the help of social media.
Best Starts for Kids = more NFP
The story doesn’t end here, and neither does the program’s work. Best Starts for Kids, an initiative of King County Executive Dow Constantine, focuses on investment in prevention— particularly in the early years of a child’s life, so healthy babies become healthy adults. The proposed levy includes resources to help stabilize and expand proven successful programs such as Nurse Family Partnership and other key prevention approaches such as Maternal Support Services. For more information on Best Starts for Kids, visit kingcounty.gov/beststarts.