Chicago Nurse-Family Partnership Celebrates Success

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Young mothers participating in new nurse home visiting program are significantly better prepared, and have the confidence and resources to successfully raise their children while pursuing education or employment

The smooth transition from pregnancy to birth to raising an infant has been very impressive. Because of NFP, I was more confident in all parts of parenthood. I can raise my baby independently and I have all that I need.

After less than one year in operation, the Chicago South Side Nurse-Family Partnership announced it is delivering on the much lauded promise of the Nurse-Family Partnership® (NFP) model to improve the lives of young children and families.

One of the first mothers to enter the Chicago South Side NFP program is Imani who, at 25 weeks pregnant in July 2011, was the first entrant. “The smooth transition from pregnancy to birth to raising an infant has been very impressive,” says Imani. “Because of NFP, I was more confident in all parts of parenthood. I can raise my baby independently and I have all that I need.”

NFP is an evidence-based community health program that helps transform the lives of vulnerable mothers pregnant with their first child. NFP partners first time mothers with nurses who provide intense and frequent home visitation services beginning early in pregnancy and continuing until the child’s second birthday. Every nurse has at least a bachelor’s degree and is specifically trained to provide education, support and guidance related to health, behavior and the ability to function independently to help the new mother prepare.

Sarah, a program participant who credits NFP with her decision to enroll in a GED program, says “NFP has changed my thoughts so I am more focused on creating a better future for my daughter and myself.”

According to Dr. Karen A. Scott, Chicago South Side NFP Medical Director and Program Administrator, “The benefits of the program extend far beyond the teen mothers who enroll. Over 35 years of research has shown that entire communities realize a social and financial benefit.”

Indeed, research demonstrates multi-generational outcomes for both families and their communities and independent analyses have shown that communities benefit socially and financially when they invest in NFP. Compared with non-participants, NFP mothers exhibit better prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, reduced involvement in crime, better child care, and increased employment rates, while children of NFP moms show improvement in health and school readiness. The RAND Corporation calls NFP “a wise choice” that returns to the community $5.70 for every $1 spent in high risk communities.

“As an obstetrician gynecologist who cares for women and young girls on Chicago’s South Side, I sought out the model that had a comprehensive curriculum, highly skilled visitors, cost-effective intervention beginning early in pregnancy, and data showing sustainable, consistent and reproducible results in a diverse community across multiple generations,” said Dr. Scott. “Although NFP is expensive to administer, there is a high level of accountability and continuous quality improvement, even with the clear success the program has already shown. I believe NFP is the public policy answer to reducing the socioeconomic and health challenges of early childbearing, with the greatest economic return on investment.”

Funded by the Ounce of Prevention Fund and supported by the National NFP, Mercy Hospital and the Young Women’s Health Initiative, the Chicago South Side NFP is the first of its kind in the city. The program has enrolled 27 mothers to date and will serve about 100 mothers in 2012. As the program continues to show success, Dr. Scott aims to obtain additional funding to will allow the program to serve more families.

A celebratory Jazz Brunch will be held on Friday, June 8 at the Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Dr. Tickets are $50 and all proceeds will directly benefit the program. For information about the brunch, or about participating in or donating to the Chicago South Side NFP, contact Shena Manning at 773-891-2500.

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