Due to personal struggles before the delivery of her newborn son, Liz Anderson knew there was a possibility that her baby might go into the care of a foster home.
But Anderson found support and coordination of care provided by the Nurse-Family Partnership, a home visitation program funded by the First Things First East Maricopa Region, which proved to make all the difference in the world.
The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program provides regular visits by trained nurses starting early in pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday. The program is designed to support first-time moms to the path of a healthy pregnancy, a strong network of support and positive parenting practices.
Anderson’s nurse home visitor through NFP provided moral support, parenting education and referrals to numerous resources to help prepare Liz for the birth of her son and for the anticipation of foster care for him, with the goal of reunification.
“I didn’t have family nearby so my home nurse, Carrie, was a huge source of support, knowledge and a sense of accountability,” Anderson said. “Even though my son did not initially come home with me, Carrie came every week to teach parenting skills and to help me know that I was not alone.”
Within his first year, Anderson was overjoyed to have her son Thomas returned to her home in Tempe, but admitted to feelings of anxiousness and inadequacy in knowing what to expect as a first-time mom. Thomas was born two months prematurely and was still showing several signs of developmental delay in communication and gross motor skills.
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Helping parents provide responsible and competent care is one of the program’s goals. Anderson was referred to appropriate healthcare and support services where she was diligent to attend every medical appointment for Thomas. She was also encouraged to spend time each day doing exercises with Thomas, recommended by his occupational therapist. In addition to these supports, the home nurse shared valuable parenting information and gave Anderson a safe place to express any challenges.
“Nurse Carrie helped me every step of the way, with advice on feeding, sleeping and tips on helping him learn to crawl, walk and talk,” Anderson said. “She made sure that we were connected to many resources including AzEIP (Arizona Early Intervention Program), which provided occupational therapy services. Soon after that, Thomas’ development just skyrocketed, and I was feeling more confident as a parent.”
Thomas is now an active, thriving toddler. Anderson credits the coordination of care provided by NFP that Thomas can effectively communicate his needs, eat successfully, go on walks, toss balls and regulate some of his emotions. In addition, Anderson proudly shares that through the support of her nurse home visitor, she has learned how to pick up on his cues and better respond to his needs.
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“I have never seen a happier child, who laughs and smiles all the time,” Anderson said. “This program came at the right moment and actually help save my life. I learned how to take care of me, so I can take care of him and because of that he is learning and growing. This program gave me the confidence and security needed to know I am doing the right thing.”