Greene County launches support program for first time moms

Greene County Public Health has launched a new program to help vulnerable first-time mothers, and will start enrolling families in its existing programs over the next couple of months.

The Nurse-Family Partnership program, one of many across the nation, is a voluntary early-childhood home visiting program, in which nurses provide support and resources for new moms.

Nurses regularly visit first-time moms-to-be, starting early in the pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday. Nurses perform screenings and physical assessments with mom and baby, and give advice on everything from safely caring for their child to providing a stable, secure future for their new family, according to public health officials.

“This is an expansion of services and adding another tool to our toolbox in helping families to reach their goals and dreams,” Public Health Information Officer Laurie Fox previously told the Dayton Daily News. “We believe there are many families we are not reaching that would greatly benefit from this program.”

The first people who will be eligible to take advantage of the program are families in Greene County that are low-income or WIC or Medicaid eligible. Families will be enrolled first through the county’s existing Healthy Families Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Healthy Families is similar to NFP, however, NFP is staffed by registered nurses and provides a more extensive clinical portion, officials said. NFP is also limited to first-time moms, while Healthy Families is not.

The county has two nurses staffing the program, based on birth data in the county, with plans to expand in the future if need be.

Babies born to vulnerable first-time moms face serious challenges each year, public health officials said. Expectant moms not only benefit by getting the care and support they need for a healthy pregnancy, but also have a trusted resource in the visiting nurse for advice on everything from safely caring for their child to ways to financially support their family in the future.

NFP programs have been in place across the country for nearly 40 years. Data from a 15-year follow-up study to a trial program in New York showed that 48% of children were less likely to suffer child abuse and neglect and 67% were less likely to experience behavioral and intellectual problems at age six.

Additionally, there were 72% fewer convictions of mothers, as measured when the child is 15 years old, 35% fewer hypertensive pregnancy disorders, and an 82% increase in months employed.

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