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Christine Wasserstein

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NURSE-FAMILY PARTNERSHIP
June 30, 2012

As a concerned citizen, I’ve long been aware of the devastating negative effects of poverty on the psychosocial wellbeing of a person’s life. But also as a psychotherapist in practice for over 30 years, I’ve become particularly aware of the impact of the early environment on a child’s emotional and intellectual development. Recent research has confirmed that the architecture of an infant’s brain begins important formation in the womb and in the early years of a child’s life. (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/). How can every child, even those without resources, reach his or her full potential? What could I do to help?

In 2006, I read an article in The New Yorker called “Swamp Nurse”. It described how Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) offered to low-income first-time mothers in Louisiana an opportunity to work with a specially trained nurse home visitor from early in her pregnancy until the child’s second birthday. Beginning in the early 1970s, Dr. David Olds initiated the development of a nurse home visitation program for first-time mothers and their children. Over the next three decades, he and his colleagues continued to test the program in three separate, randomized, controlled trials with three different populations in Elmira, New York, Memphis, Tennessee and Denver, Colorado before the program was offered for replication. Dr. Olds and his research team documented evidenced-based outcomes that demonstrated how the relationship between the new mother and her nurse measurably improved long-term the lives of the at-risk moms and children. Today, there are NFP programs in 40 states, and Dr. Olds continues his longitudinal research from the trials, which continue to demonstrate positive impacts decades later.

I was impressed and three years ago, approached Nurse-Family Partnership about setting up a site in Eastern Long Island where I live part-time. The passion, intelligence and efficacy of the staff are extraordinary and some day, a NFP site may exist there. Meanwhile, I have become acquainted with the dedicated work of New York City Nurse-Family Partnership, which is sponsored by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and have been invited to serve on their Community Advisory Board. One of the NYC NFP sites, the Targeted Citywide Initiative, provides a nurse and a mental health clinician for teens in foster care, women living in homeless shelters, and incarcerated women incarcerated women at Riker’s Island Correctional Facility. These young parents have the opportunity to meet monthly as a group with their NFP team.

Nurse-Family Partnership is an intervention that provides a first-time at-risk pregnant woman with the tools to help her build her own life as well as a positive relationship with her child. The changes brought about by the relationship of the new mother with her nurse are intergenerational! I feel passionate about how NFP makes a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable youngsters and has the potential to begin to interrupt the cycle of poverty. It needs our support.

More feedback

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

MY ROLE:
Volunteer