NEWTON, 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.
Local resident Ellen Mohrhoff participates in the Nurse Family Partnership and is often joined by her husband, Sean, during her visits with Nurse Home Visitor Debi Zingone. Mohrhoff joined the program while pregnant and living in Pennsylvania. After the birth of her daughter, Samantha, the Mohrhoff family relocated to Sussex County. The program allowed a seamless transition to a nurse provided by Project Self-Sufficiency, for which Mohrhoff is grateful. “I did not know much about Project Self-Sufficiency or the amazing things that they can do.” As the oldest of five children, Ellen was often called upon to care for her younger siblings during her adolescence. “I am the oldest of five children, and I thought I remembered quite a bit. I thought I knew what I was doing, but there are all kinds of details that I forgot. The program helped me with prenatal information and breastfeeding. They helped to figure out what steps to take and in which order. When you’re not sure what’s going on, it’s so great to be able to explain your concerns to a nurse and get an answer that you can trust. It’s also been such a relief to know that our daughter has been checked from the very beginning to make sure that she is on track.”
Ellen’s husband Sean concurs, noting, “This program has given me peace of mind for my wife.”
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.