SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – Women who are pregnant with their first child can now receive regular visits from a nurse in the privacy of their own home through the Nurse Family Partnership program offered by Project Self-Sufficiency. Eligible, first-time mothers of all ages are paired with a nurse who visits them throughout the pregnancy and up until the child’s second birthday. The voluntary program, which was started in upstate New York in the 1970’s, has been adopted in 42 states, and was recently launched in Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon Counties. The initiative is one of three different home visitation programs for young mothers which is provided by Project Self-Sufficiency to families in northwestern New Jersey.
The visiting nurses provide support, education and counseling on health, behavioral and self-sufficiency issues. “Our goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes, and to assist parents with improving early childhood development, while helping the family to move towards economic self-sufficiency,” explains Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “All of the home visitation programs offered by Project Self-Sufficiency are designed to empower mothers to be the best parents they can be.”
Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is one the most rigorously tested programs of its kind. Mothers and children who have participated in the program have consistently demonstrated significantly improved prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, increased maternal employment, improved child school readiness, reduced involvement in crime, and less child abuse, neglect and injuries.
A large part of each visit with the client is spent on counseling. Nurse Beth Caraballo has met regularly with Nurse Family Partnership client Gina Babagallo, 22, for several months. While pregnant with her now three-month-old son, Rosario, Babagallo completed her senior year of college at Montclair University and prepared for life with a newborn. Babagallo recently graduated with her class and is now searching for employment in the field of television production. Her fiancé, Ricardo, also completed his college coursework and is currently employed. Babagallo’s pregnancy came as a surprise. “I was not ready for it. People said that I was too young and that it was not the right time in my life. Now I know that I can get through it. Beth is someone I can talk to about all the things that I am going through. She is an unbiased third party.” She has worked out her short-term and long-term goals as a result of her participation in the home visitation program. “I hope to have a job that I am happy with and that allows me to support my family. I would recommend this program because it helped me get through a tough time, and it was especially helpful in dealing with the medical information, the pregnancy and coping with having a baby while trying to get through school.”
Carballo enthusiastically supports her client’s progress. “I am always so impressed when I visit Gina. Just trying to be a new mom is difficult enough without the added stress of trying to graduate from college. Gina is a motivated, inspiring girl who has a bright future ahead of her. She and her family are really doing well.”
Project Self-Sufficiency provides an array of services aimed primarily at low-income families. Programs include career guidance, computer training, help with obtaining a GED, parenting skills classes, legal assistance and education, financial workshops, health education, childcare and family activities. The agency offers help around the holidays, formal dresses during prom season, and assistance with emergency basic needs, such as food and clothing to its participants. Most services are free and many are open to the public.
Those who are interested in learning more about the Nurse-Family Partnership, or any of the other programs offered at Project Self-Sufficiency, are encouraged to call 973-940-3500, or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.