Young, first-time mothers who have completed an innovative program at the Baylor Teen Health Clinic will be recognized at a ceremony Aug. 6.
The women are the first "graduates" of the Nurse Family Partnership, which seeks to improve the health and well being of first-time mothers and their children. The program offers home-based nurse services to low-income Houston women ages 15 to 24 and their children. A nurse makes home visits beginning during pregnancy and continues until the child is 2.
Routine health assessments
The nurses visit their clients at least twice a month, conducting routine health assessments on both the mother and the child. They also provide information on parenting skills, referrals for social and support services, offer resources on family planning, education and schooling and connect mothers with community services.
"We are proud of the young women in this program and think it is important to recognize their accomplishments," said Dr. Peggy Smith, director of the Baylor Teen Health Clinic and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM.
There is plenty to celebrate. According to nurse coordinator Chelsea James, more than 86 percent of the babies born to mothers in the program were full-term; 92 percent were born at or greater than the average birth weight; and 87 percent of the mothers have initiated breast feeding. In addition, 78 percent of the mothers are enrolled in some form of school.
Special ceremony guests
Three women who have completed the program will share their experiences at the event. Other speakers will include Debra Duncan, host of Great Day Houston; Laura Misuk, a program developer for the national Nurse Family Partnership organization; and Dr. Hillary Boswell, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM and a physician with the Women's Specialists of Houston at Texas Children's Hospital.
Established in 2008, the program is funded by a grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Women can also enroll in the program through Texas Children's Health Plan and the City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services. Participants from all three organizations will be recognized at the event, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Reliant Center, 8686 Kirby Drive, Houston 77054.
The national Nurse Family Partnership program was developed 30 years ago in New York, and started expanding across the country more than 10 years ago. It has been shown to improve prenatal health, lead to increased maternal employment and improve school readiness of children. It has also led to a reduction in child abuse and neglect among participants, and children of the program grow up to have fewer arrests.