Our Nurse-Family Partnership community is built on that same bond that we all share. Thank you for joining me here tonight; you, our supporters, are an integral part of our community and our success.
Hello and welcome, everyone. I am Frank Daidone, and I am the President and CEO of Nurse-Family Partnership’s National Service Office. Looking around the room, listening to the conversation, it’s obvious that there is a common bond among all of us: we dedicate ourselves, our time, our resources to make the world a better place, to lift up those that are less fortunate than we are. That is the cornerstone of a future where children are healthy, families thrive, communities prosper and ultimately, the cycle of poverty is broken. That is what we are here to do today.
I would like to take just a moment to acknowledge some honored guests that are here with us tonight, starting with our first-ever Parent Ambassadors. Our Parent Ambassadors are graduates that are now becoming advocates for us, going out and sharing their courageous stories. You are an inspiration to us all.
We also have our National Board Members here tonight. I cannot thank you enough for your dedication to NFP. Specifically, I would like to mention Christian Soura, who is now our new Board Chair. It is going to be an honor to serve alongside you.
The Magic Window Dr. David olds envisioned
There is one more important person who brings us all together under the umbrella of Nurse-Family Partnership, and that is Dr. David Olds. Without Dr. Olds, none of this would exist. For those of you who don’t know his story, forty plus years ago, Dr. Olds believed that if you could get to a child that was born into difficult circumstances, you could work with them and change their life course. He began working with preschool children, and when he saw the scars of abuse physically and emotionally that were so deep already at such a young age, he knew the intervention had to start earlier. He had to look at them when they were infants– or before they were even born. And that is when he came up with his theory of change that NFP is based on. In Dr. Olds’ own words:
“There is a magic window during pregnancy, there is a time when the desire to be a good mother and raise a healthy, happy child creates motivation to overcome incredible obstacles including poverty, instability, or abuse, with the help of a well-trained nurse.”
That was his vision for this program. There are three basic goals behind NFP.
- One is to work with a mom to stay healthy and deliver a health baby on time, to get the child off to the right start.
- The second is child development – helping first-time parents ask and answer the questions: Is my child hitting development milestones on time? Are they going to be ready for school? Are they going to be ready for life? Am I building a strong bond with my child?
- And the third is ensuring economic self-sufficiency and charting a life-course for each mom that enables her to become the best parent she can possibly be.
And the magic to all of this- the real secret to all of this– is well-trained and highly educated nurse.
These nurses get up every day, they pack their bags, they get their equipment, they get in their cars, they get on the subway, and sometimes, they even do it on foot. And they go into some of the most difficult, challenging and dangerous circumstances in the neighborhoods and homes they visit. Their safety is often at risk, but they do it every day because they believe in the change that they are creating.
And we know they are creating change. Through decades of research, the evidence shows that this is proven to work. I don’t need to explain to you that this program works. The evidence and impact— both in the short and long term – speaks for itself. That’s what’s so powerful about the Nurse-Family Partnership model.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to experience this myself by going on home visits with some of our nurses, who we affectionately call our Tenacious Caregivers.
OUR TENACIOUS CAREGIVERS
I recall two years ago, my first home visit in East Los Angeles. I sat sweating profusely in a tiny attic apartment, occupied by a family of six, next to our nurse who held a 2-month old baby in her hands. All I could think about was, “Man, we’re going to have to get out of here at some point.” But the nurse was completely unfazed by the heat – she sat there, doing her work, assessing the child, when suddenly she looked at the mom and asked, “Have you ever had any hearing issues?”
And the mom replied, “As a matter of fact, I did. I wore hearing aids until I was 13 years old.” Our nurse had identified that this child, at two months old, had a hearing impairment. She was able to send the child out for a screening and get his mother the support that she needed, so that she could get her child back on track. So that her child could develop and succeed. It was incredible to see. That’s one example of the immediate positive outcomes of our program.
OUR LONG-TERM OUTCOMES
I was in Pennsylvania not too long ago, talking with one of our moms who graduated 15 years ago, named Shannon. She was telling me about her nurse and her circumstances: when she found out she was pregnant, she was homeless, she was unemployed, she had no family support whatsoever, none, BUT – she had a nurse. Her nurse, Cindy, got her through those first stages, helped her find a place to stay, got her on her feet. After she delivered her baby, when that child was one year old, Nurse Cindy started to ask the big questions: “What do you want to do with your life? Who do you want to be? Do you want to go to college?”
Shannon replied, “No, college isn’t for people like me.” The next visit, Nurse Cindy asked again, “Have you given any more thought about going to school?”
“Yes, I’m starting to.”
And over time, Cindy helped Shannon find her way to go to school and follow her dreams. 15 years later, Shannon is married, has three beautiful daughters, has a house of her own, and works as an Assistant District Attorney fighting for children’s rights in Pennsylvania. THAT is the power of Nurse-Family Partnership.
Shannon, our Parent Ambassadors and the moms you saw in our video, are just a few of the thousands of success stories. But the reason why there are so many success stories, is because of another person in this room that I want to recognize tonight: Bob Hill.
When Bob learned about Nurse-Family Partnership, he knew that this was a program that needed to reach all families in need. So, he went to Dr. Olds and he found a way to secure the funding. Two decades ago, Bob helped start our National Service Office here in Denver, got it off the ground and helped scale the program exponentially. We are now in 41 states serving 57,000 families every year. Thank you, Bob.
MY PERSONAL CONNECTION TO OUR MISSION
Seeing how much NFP has grown and hearing stories like these demonstrate NFP’s impact and ability to change lives.
I share this not just as CEO, but because this mission is close to my own personal story.
I grew up in the low-income community in Brentwood, New York and was on the free lunch program. My younger brother had severe cerebral palsy. As a quadriplegic he needed 24/7 care and my mom was the one who provided that care. My father worked two jobs to keep food on the table and keep the lights on. Growing up in the New York Public School system, you didn’t talk about who was graduating and what college they were going to go to…you talked about who dropped out. You talked about who’s going to jail. That’s the background that I came out of, and that’s why this mission to help young, at-risk families living in poverty is so close to my heart. I realize how fortunate I am in my own career, in the path that I found along the way. It made me realize that I needed to give back.
My first job out of college, ironically, was with a nurse home visiting program in central Florida.
The memory of it popped back into my head when I was learning about NFP. I was a lab tech traveling to homes all over rural areas of Florida. I saw tremendous poverty back then, and it was through this experience that I realized how important having a supportive family or community is to a person’s health and well-being. Since then, my career has taken me many different places, from the corporate world to the public sector. But eventually I realized, it was time to give back. That’s when I found Nurse-Family Partnership and quickly realized that, as a part of this incredible organization, I had to power help others born into difficult circumstances realize their own strength and find a path out.
For me, the opportunity to be involved with NFP and work alongside our dedicated supporters is, without a doubt, the greatest honor of my life.
We have a big vision for where we want to take our program. There are 380,000 children born into poverty across this country every single year with parents that are capable, if they just had a chance. If they just had an opportunity, they could turn their own life and their child’s life also. That’s how Nurse-Family Partnership is breaking the cycle of poverty for families, for generations to come, in communities across America. And that’s why we all do what we do. With all of us working together, someday the value of someone’s life is not going to be what’s in their pocket, it’s going to be what’s in their heart and in their minds.