From a desire to help people, to a plan that truly does.
The story of how Nurse-Family Partnership became a leading model in maternal-child health programs.
Nurse-Family Partnership is founded on the pioneering work of David Olds, professor of pediatrics, psychiatry, and preventive medicine at the University of Colorado Denver. While working in an inner-city day care center in the early 1970s, Olds was struck by the endemic risks and difficulties in the lives of low-income children. He realized the children needed help much earlier—at home, with their mothers, when they were infants, and even before they were born. Olds' determination to help young children and families get a better start in life led to the development of a nurse home visitation program for first-time, low-income moms and their children.
Over the next 35 years, he tested the program in randomized controlled trials with three different populations: Elmira, New York, in 1977; Memphis, Tennessee, in 1988; and Denver, Colorado, in 1994. Results showed that the program improved pregnancy outcomes, improved the health and development of children, and helped parents create a positive life course for themselves.
By 1996, Dr. Olds was satisfied that NFP was ready for dissemination to local communities. Two locations began replication that year - Dayton, Ohio was the first, and several counties in Wyoming began shortly thereafter. Six additional locations (Los Angeles, Fresno, and Oakland, CA, Clearwater, FL, St. Louis, MO, and Oklahoma City, OK) were funded in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Since then, the program has grown tremendously. A collaboration with Public/Private Ventures resulted in a statewide initiative in Pennsylvania, as well as sites in several other states. Nurse-Family Partnership's ongoing partnership with Invest In Kids resulted in a statewide initiative in Colorado. Today, Nurse-Family Partnership serves low-income, first-time moms and their babies in 43 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and six tribal communities.
The Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office, a national non-profit, was established in 2003 to facilitate quality replication of the Nurse-Family Partnership program across the U.S. and to provide implementing agencies with ongoing support in nursing education and practice, program quality assurance, marketing, public policy, and more.
Today, Olds and his team at the Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health at the University of Colorado Denver continue to study the model's long-term effects and lead research to improve the Nurse-Family Partnership program model. Read about new research and innovations of the Nurse-Family Partnership program in this PEDIATRICS journal article, “Improving the Nurse-Family Partnership in Community Practice” (November 2013).