BCM Family
for Faculty, Staff and Trainees
Volume 7, Issue 8
August 2010

Home-based nurse program helps young mothers, children

Faith Johnson, left, with nurse Dolly Oliver
Dolly Oliver, a nurse in the Nurse-Family Partnership Program at the Baylor Teen Health Clinic, visits with Faith Johnson at an event at the zoo which marked the program's successful first year.

An innovative program at the Baylor Teen Health Clinic designed to improve the health and well being of young first-time mothers and their children recently celebrated its successes since launching nearly two years ago.

The mothers enrolled in the program called the Nurse-Family Partnership, along with their children, nurses involved in the program, and others at the Teen Health Clinic, gathered at the Houston Zoo last month, where they had lunch, toured the zoo and had the chance to talk with their peers.

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.

There are currently 78 women enrolled in the program, which is funded by a grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Other Houston sites where women can enroll include Texas Children's Hospital and the City of Houston.

Successes

"We are very proud of this program and the successes of our young mothers and the nurses who work with them," said Dr. Peggy Smith, director of the Teen Health Clinic. "We're looking forward to celebrating their achievements as well as those made by our sister organizations that are part of the Nurse-Family Partnership."

Nurse coordinator Chelsea James said the Baylor program has reason to celebrate. 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.

Benefits

Four nurses work in the Baylor program. They 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.

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.