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Photo: Invest in Kids.

Changing the Course for First-Time Moms

Nurse-Family Partnership—a program of Invest in Kids—pairs low-income, first-time moms with professional nurses.

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Amanda Smith was a teenager living out of her car when she met a young man. She was 19 when she found out she was pregnant. “I was scared, I had no family support, and I didn’t know the first thing about having a baby,” she remembers.

She enrolled in Medicaid, and the intake coordinator told her about Nurse-Family Partnership—a program of Invest in Kids, that pairs low-income, first-time moms with professional nurses. “It was exactly what I needed,” Smith says.

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Through the program, nurses visit first-time moms regularly in their homes, and build relationships with them for more than two years. “It’s a strengths-based program to help moms be the best that they can be,” says Lisa Hill, executive director of Invest in Kids.

It’s ideal that women enroll before 28 weeks of pregnancy, Hill says, to ensure healthier birth outcomes. The partnership continues until children are two years old, to help create healthier child outcomes, and to help moms reach the goal of long-term self-sufficiency.

Colorado is one of 41 states with the program. Decades of research show that it works: 92 percent of Colorado women in the program initiated breastfeeding; 92 percent of children were immunized by 24 months.

Hill says the program is successful in breaking unhealthy patterns because of the relationships that are developed between nurses and new moms, in addition to the life stage at which they enter the program. “We have a window of opportunity when moms are pregnant for the first time,” Hill explains. “They want nothing more than to have a healthy baby.”

For Smith, the program educated her, but also gave her hope. “I became more confident, and less worried about the birth,” she says. “I went from having fear and uncertainty to having something to look forward to.”

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Smith’s life, which was plagued with generational poverty, has changed drastically. Her son is now 13 and likes to play football. Smith finished her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees (the first in her family to go to college), got a job she loves, and is working on her MBA. She is married, has a daughter, and even has a healthy co-parenting relationship with her son’s father.

Smith gained self-confidence during her years in the Nurse-Family Partnership. “I learned to not underestimate myself,” she says. “I had a mindset at that time that I was stupid. [My nurse] empowered me to see my own potential.”


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