A Supportive Nurse Makes All the Difference
State Series Highlight: Pennsylvania
In the US, more than 2.3 million infants and toddlers live in poverty and an additional 2.3 million live in families without enough income to meet basic needs.*
According to research from the National Center for Children in Poverty, children raised in poverty have a higher risk of poor health, learning issues, social, emotional and behavioral problems. Due to the negative impact poverty has on children, families and communities, millions of dollars are invested in programs to support this population. By intervening at this critical time, Nurse-Family Partnership empowers families to elevate themselves and their children out of poverty, giving them the opportunity for a better future with the guidance of a registered nurse.
Dr. David Olds, Nurse-Family Partnership’s founder identified, “There is a magic window during pregnancy… a time when the desire to be a good mother and raise a healthy, happy child creates motivation to overcome incredible obstacles including poverty with the help of a well-trained nurse.” Unfortunately, vulnerable moms are often hard to find and enroll. Historically, this is one of the more difficult aspects of the work being done in the field with pregnant young women dealing with difficult circumstances such as homelessness, isolation, intimate partner violence and situations where trust and vulnerability can understandably be a factor.
In Pennsylvania, Nurse-Family Partnership nurses have an impressive and impactful rate of finding and enrolling moms with these complex risk factors. Through a generous public grant, state teams meet annually to share ideas and discuss new innovations. I had the opportunity to speak to a room of over 250 nurses and asked them about their success and the hard work that is behind it.
One by one the nurses walked up to the microphone and articulated the challenges of referrals and the importance of their communication with moms; “We have to keep calling.” “We have to keep trying to connect.” I could see heads around the room begin to nod in agreement. “We know it’s urgent to enroll moms during this critical window.” A small round of applause began in the room as they continued and eventually erupted when one nurse said, “We don’t stop and we never give up!”
Shannon thrives with the support of her nurse Cindy
“Alone. Scared. Homeless. Jobless. Pregnant. Those words described me at 19,” shares Shannon Malone, a Pennsylvania NFP graduate. A phone call from NFP Nurse Cindy Kiess changed her life. With Cindy’s expert advice and guidance, Shannon had a healthy pregnancy and was prepared to care for her baby, Tatum, with confidence. She helped Shannon find housing and encouraged her to continue her education and attend college. “I didn’t think college was for me. After all, I had left home early and dropped out of high school. But Cindy really believed in me and gave me confidence in myself,” she said.
Shannon realized she was building her life and writing her own story for the very first time. Shannon’s story includes a job she loves as an Assistant Public Defender in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, a home she owns, three beautiful daughters and a supportive husband of 11 years.
It is through the skill, commitment and tenacity of Nurse-Family Partnership nurses like Cindy, our hardworking teams in states like Pennsylvania and driven moms like Shannon that we see families able to build a better life for themselves and their children.
Be a Force for Good,
This is the first in a new series on the blog highlighting successful practices in states we serve across the country. Stay tuned for our next state highlight.