Facebook204Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Thurston County Public Health and Social ServicesParenting is hard. Even when you have lots of help, and tons of resources at your disposal, it’s a tough road. Becoming a mother for the first time is harder still—and first-time moms without the resources and resiliency they need have it hardest of all. The Thurston-Mason-Lewis Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program is dedicated to building relationships between experienced nurses and new mothers who are experiencing multiple challenges.Any woman who meets the income requirements and is in the first 28 weeks of her first pregnancy may be eligible to participate. The Nurse-Family Partnership’s goals include improving pregnancy outcomes, child health and development, and economic self-sufficiency for families.Last fall, the Board of Thurston County Commissioners voted to create a new Division of Child, Family, and Community Wellness in the Department of Public Health and Social Services to focus on improving the health and wellbeing of kids and families. NFP is the fastest-growing program in that division.NFP nurses help offer the opportunities and resources a new mother needs, whether they relate to the health of her pregnancy or achieving her long-term aspirations. Once a nurse meets with a pregnant woman, the two work together to create goals to help the mother:Have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy babyBecome the best parent she can beBuild a strong network of support for the mom and babyMake the home a safe place for the baby to live and playObtain referrals for healthcare, childcare, and other support servicesFind ways to further the mother’s education and develop job skillsHelp the mom set goals for her family’s future, and find ways to help her reach themNFP prides itself on being client-centered. The program gives new moms the tools they need to accomplish the goals they set for themselves, while trusting them to be the experts in their own lives. When a new mother is enrolled, one of 14 nurses works with the mom and baby until the child is two years old. Two of these nurses are bilingual, so the program is well positioned to meet the needs of underserved families in our community.Gretchen Thaller, who oversees NFP at Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, says the support of County leadership has been vital to the success of the program. “Our NFP program is the first in Washington State to pursue a three-county partnership effort. Since January, our nurses have served 309 families so far this year and delivered 2,628 home visits, more than double what we did last year. This wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support of our Thurston County Commissioners.”The results are indisputable. Program data shows that Nurse-Family Partnership reduces:Infant mortality by 48 percentSmoking during pregnancy by 25 percentPreterm births by 18 percentEmergency department use related to childhood injuries by 34 percentChild maltreatment by 33 percentYouth alcohol, tobacco & marijuana use by 56 percentChildhood behavioral and intellectual problems by 67 percentAdditionally, the program significantly improves breastfeeding and immunization rates. 97 percent of NFP moms breastfeed their newborns. By age two, 97 percent of children enrolled in the program are fully immunized, and 85 percent have received well-child visits at a physician’s office.Every dollar invested in NFP can yield up to $6.20 in return. NFP reduces families’ use of Medicaid and food stamps, decreases their involvement with Child Protective Services and law enforcement, and improves financial self-sufficiency.Bud Blake, Chair of the Board of Thurston County Commissioners, says, “The Nurse-Family Partnership delivers amazing results for our region’s most vulnerable mothers and babies. The Board is committed to continuing to invest in this incredible program and in other strategies that will help ensure a bright future for children, youth, and families in our community.”Mothers involved in the NFP program won’t hesitate to tell you what it’s meant to them. In fact, there is an entire website dedicated to their stories.For more information about our local Nurse-Family Partnership program, call 360-867-2545. You can also learn more at the Nurse-Family Partnership website.