Often those things aren’t available or the information can be conflicting or the amount of information overwhelming. Knowing that the preparation for this important job begins with the pregnancy and the prenatal development of the child, Southwestern Child Development began the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program through the support of Kate B. Reynolds, The Community Foundation and the Evergreen Foundation five years ago.
Jenna Kranz and her husband moved to Sylva from Florida three years ago for her husband to take a position in the English Department at Western Carolina University. Last year when she became pregnant, Kranz was excited, but realized she knew nothing about pregnancy, child development and taking care of a baby. Admittedly she said that this lack of knowledge created a lot of anxiety in her as it can for many first time parents.
Kranz who is self-employed and operates her own granola business, Happy Go Lucky Foods, which she sells on-line and at the farmer’s market feels she was very fortunate to be selected to work with the Nurse Family Partnership program. One of the nurses, Kathryn Ross was a customer at the farmer’s market and told Kranz about the program. After qualifying for the program, Ross then became the nurse who partnered with Kranz and her husband.
The Nurse Family Partnership program was founded and developed by Dr. David Olds and is based in Denver, Colorado. The goal of the program is to improve pregnancy outcomes, promote child and maternal health, improve child development, and promote self-sufficiency among the young mothers the program serves. Southwestern NFP has 4 Registered Nurse Home Visitors to cover Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The program also has a Nursing Supervisor and a part-time administrative assistant/outreach coordinator. The nurses are experienced Bachelor prepared RN's. These nurses visit their clients in the home from the time the client is enrolled into the program until the child is 2 years of age. The program is totally voluntary and client referrals are accepted from most sources including self-referrals. Southwestern NFP has the capacity to serve up to 100 clients. Clients must be first-time mothers and be eligible for Medicaid and/or WIC.
Kranz, now the proud mother of her 7-month-old daughter Josie, feels that the program has been extremely valuable to their entire family. Through Ross’ bi-weekly visits and the relationship built between Ross and the family, Kranz has had support with her pregnancy, postpartum concerns, and is now addressing the needs of caring for their child. Kranz has been impressed with the breadth of the information that is available and says that their next step is working with Ross to create a financial plan for the family.
“The program has provided us with resources that we would otherwise not have,” Kranz said.
Kranz and her husband both say that they are more prepared for raising Josie than they would have been without the program and Ross’ support. With their families in Michigan and Florida they feel that the program has filled a void that their family was too far away to fill.
“Southwestern NFP currently serves 85 clients and has a client completion rate of over 80 percent. At least 90 percent of our mothers have returned to school or are making an effort to get their GED. Many of our clients are going on to further their education. Repeat pregnancy rates before the first child is 6 months of age are less than 10 percent. This is a marked decrease when looking at the area population served by the program,” said Vicki Lewis, who supervises the program for Southwestern Child Development.
“Our clients are making sure their child receives recommended health care. At least 85 percent of our clients are also returning to the area workforce,” said Lewis.