2008-02-08 / Community

New Health Sites Target Poor, Pregnant

The Health Department today announced the opening of five new sites for the Nurse-Family Partnership, the city's successful home visiting program that aims to reduce poverty and improve health for new mothers and their children.

One of the new sites, the Jamaica site, will service Rockaway as well.

The expansion of Nurse Family Partnership - to neighborhoods including East New York, Astoria, Coney Island, Staten Island, and the Lower East Side - will mean better health and a brighter future for 1,000 more first time moms and their babies in these areas. These sites are part of a major expansion of the program outlined by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2006 to improve economic opportunity for New York City families.

Speaking in his weekly radio address on Monday, Mayor Bloomberg said, "The Nurse-Family Partnership has already improved the health of mothers and infants in Jamaica, Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx," he said. "Now we're taking NFP to the next level by extending its reach to all five boroughs and more than doubling the number of sites."

"We know that this program makes a difference," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. "It has a national track record, and it has already helped more than 1,000 New York City families achieve better health and better lives. Our Nurse-Family Partnership is now the nation's largest. Any woman who is pregnant for the first time can call 311 to find out whether she is eligible to take part."

The latest expansion boosts NFP's citywide capacity to 2,600 families by bringing services to previously unserved neighborhoods. New sites are now taking shape in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, and a new site has opened in Staten Island - the first one in the borough. The Health Department also announced the expansion of NFP programs in the Bronx and Jamaica, Queens. The program is also available to teens in foster care and to women who are homeless or incarcerated.

The Nurse-Family Partnership uses proven strategies to improve the health and self-sufficiency of low-income, first-time parents and their children. The program's nurses visit moms in their homes every one to two weeks during pregnancy and throughout their child's first two years of life, offering guidance on breast feeding, child development, parenting skills, pregnancy planning, preventive health practices and strategies to attain economic self-sufficiency, including going back to school and finding a good job.

"Many low-income women don't learn about parenting until they have their own babies." said Lisa Landau, director of Nurse-Family Partnership for the Health Department. "They often lack support, and many end up feeling overwhelmed. By building trusting relationships with these women, NFP nurses help build their confidence. As women learn to take good care of themselves and their babies, they discover they can share a healthy future."

In other parts of the country, rigorous studies have found that NFP programs have lifelong benefits for the families that take part in them. The program has reduced child abuse and neglect by 48 percent in participating families, while cutting criminal convictions by 72 percent among participating mothers and cutting arrests by 61 percent among their children. Other successes include better prenatal health, fewer unintended subsequent pregnancies, increased employment for mothers, and greater involvement among fathers. Recognized nationally for its effectiveness and cost savings, NFP is one of the priorities set by Mayor Bloomberg's Commission for Economic Opportunity to improve prospects for poor children, and help break the cycle of poverty for their families.

If you are pregnant and will be a mom for the first time, call 311 and ask about enrolling in the Nurse- Family Partnership. Amap of targeted areas is available at www.nyc.- gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/csi/nfpmap. pdf. To find out more about NFP, visit www.nyc.gov/health.

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