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.
New parents Cyrene Dalman and Andy Ferrara are juggling their new responsibilities along with school and employment. The young family resides with Dalman’s parents, and all of the adults share in the care of the new baby, Adrianna. When he learned that Dalman, 20, was expecting, college business major Ferrara, 19, transferred schools in order to live with Cyrene and be involved in parenting his new daughter. He currently attends school full-time and works long hours at a local pizzeria. “I made a promise to myself that I would stay in college, even if it meant taking only one class at a time,” commented Ferrara about handling the responsibilities of work and academia. “You just learn that you have to do what you’ve got to do.”
Dalman is on maternity leave from her job as a stylist, but is pondering an alternative career in health care once her daughter is older. Although she is an experienced babysitter, Dalman is grateful for the advice she receives from Nurse Home Visitor Lacey Pabst who visits Dalman in her home every week. “I have learned a lot. Lacey gives me so much advice. I was so nervous before the delivery and Lacey gave me some wise words. We went over the whole process and discussed what to expect. She helped me with my birthing plan, and she advises me to stick to my goals. I became a smarter mom because of Lacey.”
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 visitwww.projectselfsufficiency.org.