The transition to motherhood can be challenging, particularly for low-income young women who have limited access to good parenting information or role models. Thankfully, for women in Bradford, Sullivan, and Tioga counties, a special Guthrie resource is making a big difference to them and their children.
The Guthrie Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) has helped more than 500 women since the program’s inception in 2007. As the need has grown, so has the program. “We’re expanding to serve more mothers in all three counties, and we need the community’s support,” says Desiree Rockwell, NFP Administrator.
Transforming the Lives of Mothers and Babies
The NFP is an evidence-based home visitation program that helps transform the lives of income-eligible women pregnant with their first child. Specially trained registered nurses meet with their clients and help improve pregnancy outcomes, train new mothers in how to help their infants and children develop well, and help these women increase their self-sufficiency as parents.
“NFP connects a nurse home visitor with a first-time mom early in her pregnancy. The nurse continues visitation until the child’s second birthday,” Rockwell explains. “Our nurses provide support, education, and referrals on health, infant development, and self-sufficiency topics.”
Data from more than 40 years of studies conducted on NFP programs across the country show that mothers and children who have participated in the program have consistently demonstrated significantly improved prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, increased maternal employment, improved child school readiness, reduced involvement in crime, and less child abuse, neglect, and injuries.
“We have eight nurses who can serve up to 130 women in our service area,” Rockwell says. “We are helping these women become good mothers and supporting their efforts to make sure their children are healthy and safe.”
A Needed Helping Hand
As is typical for Guthrie providers, nurses in the NFP often go above and beyond in supporting the mothers-to-be and babies. As the nurses screen the infants for developmental milestones, they like to provide items like rattles, floor mirrors, quilts, and puzzles to help make sure the parents have the resources they need to help their children learn and grow. For many parents, those necessary items are commonly available. But for NFP clients, there may not be enough money coming in to buy them.
“We also love when we can give out much-needed items such as safety supplies, personal hygiene items, diapers, and wipes,” Rockwell says.
The NFP also supports its clients by providing social opportunities and celebrating important achievements. “Each year we host a couple of events to give our families opportunities to come together and meet each other. We feel these are wonderful occasions to build support among these new moms so they can build positive community support systems,” Rockwell says.
How the Community Can Help
Rockwell is grateful for funding from the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning and the support that many community organizations and individuals provide. However, there is always a need for more support. From sponsoring or funding one of the social events and collecting donations of much-needed supplies, to providing monetary support, there’s an opportunity for the community to get involved with the good work that NFP does.
“The most significant costs to our budget are salaries, benefits, and mileage reimbursement, and as we expand to meet the growing need, these costs increase, too. But we have a need for gifts-in-kind as well. We accept any and all donor support,” Rockwell says. “We are so very thankful for the support of local businesses, organizations, and individuals who believe in the impact that we have on families in our local communities.”
For more information about Guthrie’s Nurse-Family Partnership, or to learn how you or your organization can help, please go online to https://www.guthrie.org/gift-support-nurse-family-partnership or call 570-268-2518 for more information.
Your group or organization can support the Guthrie Nurse-Family Partnership by collecting donations of any of the following. Personal hygiene products
- Reusable water bottles
- Fabric baby quilts
- Craft items
- Infant developmental toys
- Board books
- Diapers and wipes
NFP during COVID-19
The NFP team continued their work throughout the COVID- 19 Pandemic. Nurses quickly identified virtual formats and used telephone calls to reach out to their clients. Telehealth served as a valuable resource to the NFP program, allowing nurses to assess health of mothers and babies, while providing a platform to educate families on COVID- related information. Nurses listened, provided support, encouragement, and helped to alleviate fears. Telehealth also allowed the NFP program to enroll new moms. Educational materials were sent to clients to use as a visual cue while teaching moms virtually. NFP’s Goal Mama app was used to help moms set goals for themselves and to create appointment reminders. Resources for mental health agencies and at-home mindfulness resources were sent to moms. Nurses also did client “drops,” leaving food, diapers, wipes, clothes and other items on their clients’ doorsteps.