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Nurse-Family Partnership Program to Help Young Expectant Mothers Have Healthier Pregnancies, Become Better Parents

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara is implementing a Nurse-Family Partnership Program that will help young, low-income, expectant mothers have healthier pregnancies, become better parents, have emotionally and physically healthier children, and gain greater self-sufficiency.

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program is collaboration between the County’s Public Health and Mental Health departments that will provide home visitation services to first-time families in Santa Clara County, beginning in November.

“Early childhood is a critical time for creating positive habits and building a foundation for the future,” said President Ken Yeager, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “The Nurse-Family Partnership is an innovative, proactive program that will provide expectant mothers with the resources they need to create strong, healthy families.”

Specially trained Public Health nurses will each work with 25 first-time mothers and provide case management through the home visiting model from pregnancy until the child’s second birthday. The program will work with approximately 125 women the first year.

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is an evidence-based, community health program that helps transform the lives of first time mothers. It is during a first pregnancy that the best chance exists to promote and teach positive health and development behaviors between a mother and her baby. The Nurse-Family partnership program is delivered by Public Health Nurses (PHNs) who are perceived as trusted and competent professionals, fostering a powerful bond between the nurse and mother.

“By providing support to first time mothers who are also coping with socio-economic and personal health issues, the home visitation model will bring essential services into the picture in a way that greatly increases the ability of both mother and child to thrive,” said Supervisor Liz Kniss, Chair of the Board’s Health and Hospital Committee. “Parents want to make positive choices for their families, and this program gives them skills to do so.”

Typically a client begins to work with her nurse home visitor (PHN) during her first trimester of pregnancy and continues throughout the child’s second birthday. This early intervention during pregnancy allows for any critical behavior changes needed to improve the health of the mother and child. The model offers the mother relevant health information combined with a therapeutic relationship that focused on self-efficacy.

The public health nurse begins by developing a trusting relationship with the expectant mother, and becomes a partner in the family’s life. The nurse conducts health assessments, helps the client set health goals, and works with the client to develop a plan to improve the family’s life. Throughout the two years, the nurse assists the mother with overcoming obstacles and finding solutions such as housing assistance, finding transportation to prenatal or child healthcare visits, additional education to help overcome economic challenges, and parenting skills.

In order to participate in the program, expectant mothers must be in their 28th week of pregnancy or earlier, low income, less than 25 years of age and pregnant with their first child. Enrollment priority will be given to expectant mothers involved with the mental health system, foster care system, juvenile justice/criminal justice system, and schools identified as having the highest need for prevention and intervention services, including: South County, East San Jose, Central San Jose, and North County.

“One of the many strengths of the Santa Clara County Nurse-Family Partnership Program is the collaboration between Public Health and Mental Health that enables the program to focus on improving pregnancy outcomes, improving child health and development, improving economic self sufficiency; and decreasing the need for intensive behavioral health services,” said Dan Peddycord, Santa Clara County Public Health Director.

The program goals include:

  • Improve pregnancies by helping women engage in good preventive health practices, including receiving prenatal care, improving nutrition, and reducing or eliminating the use of  cigarettes, alcohol and illegal substances.
  • Improve child health and development by helping parents provide responsible and competent care.
  • Improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents develop a vision of their own future, plan future pregnancies, continue their education, and find work.
  • Decrease the need for and utilization of intensive mental health services by investing in early intervention and prevention measures for expectant mothers considered to be of highest risk.


Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, or Joy Alexiou, Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, (408) 885-4164
Posted: September 15, 2010