Supporting at-risk moms remains priority through COVID

by Amanda Lick, Government Affairs Manager, Nurse-Family Partnership

For many expectant and new moms, COVID-19 limited their access to resources and information about pregnancy and parenthood and isolated them from their support systems. For moms working with Nurse-Family Partnership® — low-income, first-time mothers – a critical piece of that support system is their nurses.

Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), which has served families in Missouri for 20 years, pairs each mom enrolled in the program with her own personal nurse who helps guide her through the emotional, social and physical challenges she faces as she prepares for a healthy birth and life with her new baby. The specially trained nurses regularly visit young, first-time moms-to-be from early in pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. Along the way the nurses become a trusted resource and work to connect moms with community resources, building their support systems so they continue to succeed after graduating from NFP.

When COVID-19 struck and stay-at-home orders were issued, NFP quickly moved from providing in-home visits to communicating with their clients by phone or video conference. These telehealth visits ensured that expectant and new moms would keep their connection with their nurse and have access to timely health care information during the pandemic. NFP already had three years of experience implementing telehealth visits as a supplement to in-person visits, so the transition was quick.

Just having telehealth available was not enough, though. NFP moms needed to be able to access it. Local Nurse-Family Partnership nurses across the U.S. identified that a significant number of clients did not have access to a smartphone and would no longer be able to communicate with their nurses during the pandemic. To help NFP moms keep their critical connection with their nurses, the Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office worked with Verizon and ATG to provide 3,800 iPhones with data plans at no cost to moms in 39 states. As of July 2020, 82 phones had been delivered to Missouri families.

During COVID-19, NFP also has advocated for increased flexibility in government funding streams that support the program to allow for telehealth and for additional funding for the tangible needs of families, including technology, formula and diapers. Our nurses are working to connect families with needed community resources – like food and housing assistance — during the pandemic. And, NFP nurses have become critical resources to families regarding when to seek medical care and when to utilize information lines or reschedule appointments (e.g. a routine well-child checkup).

This focus on staying in touch with moms is critical because NFP helps break the cycle of poverty. Confident mothers become knowledgeable parents who are able to prepare their children for successful futures. The relationship between mom and personal nurse improves the lives of moms and babies by:

  • Improving pregnancy outcomes by helping women engage in good preventive health practices.
  • Improving child health and development by helping parents provide responsible care.
  • Improving the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents develop a vision for their own future, plan future pregnancies, continue their education and find work.

In fact, every dollar invested in NFP saves $5.70 in future costs for the highest-risk families served in Missouri.

Continuing to have this multi-generational impact requires public and private support, coalitions like Kids Win Missouri and the local partners that allow NFP to serve moms in 18 of Missouri’s counties. This year, Nurse-Family Partnership celebrates 20 years serving Missouri moms. More than 3,500 Missouri moms have benefitted from their own personal nurse through pregnancy and the first two years of their child’s life. In the midst of a pandemic or when life returns to a new “normal,” expectant and new moms can count on Nurse-Family Partnership. Most importantly, they can count on their NFP nurses.

I would like to thank our state partners at Bureau of Genetics and Healthy Childhood Section for Healthy Families and Youth Division of Community and Public Health in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for their ongoing support of NFP in Missouri. I would like to especially thank our NFP agencies, Building Blocks of St. Louis, Southeast region and Kansas City region for all that you have done to stay connected with families and to help moms and babies have the best start possible even during this uncertain time.

To learn more about NFP in Missouri, please contact Amanda Lick,

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