Danielle Addy was 19 years old when she discovered she was pregnant. At the time, she was living in a small garage.
“I just thought I deserved it and that’s where I had to live,” Addy said. “I didn’t have a brighter side and was questioning everything.”
Addy enrolled as a client in the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program at the Panhandle Health District. As a young, first-time mother, she was referred to the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program and her outlook changed.
Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) pairs low-income, first-time mothers with a trained nurse, who coach them throughout the pregnancy until their child’s second birthday. Nurses mentor the young mothers – encouraging them to finish their education, apply for better-paying jobs and set themselves on a path to financial stability, so they can support their family.
Just a couple weeks after Addy was referred, she was paired with Diana Bird, a registered nurse who began to visit Addy every week at her home.
During a typical visit, they would measure Addy’s son, Adrien, and track his milestones, even while he was still in the womb. They discussed challenges from baby blues and breastfeeding to getting rid of diaper rash.
“Being a single mom, working full time, you don’t have time to do research or go to the library, but with NFP, Diana comes to the house when you’re available and spends time addressing all the important questions,” Addy said.
Nurse Family Partnership allows the nurses to develop long-term relationships with the mothers, working with each client for over two years. In this case, Nurse Diana saw Addy’s confidence as a parent and as a woman grow week after week.
“All mothers want the best for their children,” Diana explained. “This program enables them to see their strengths and use them in parenting. I’ve seen clients who are in abusive relationships and I try to help them find resources to be safe. Others need help finding work or transportation or someone to point them to good child care.”
Most importantly, NFP nurses try to ensure these new mothers do not feel alone.
“Even when I was going from home to home, Diana was there. Diana was there the day Adrien was born and she was there on his second birthday.”
After Adrien’s second birthday, Addy became the first NFP graduate in the state of Idaho. With the program’s help, Addy and her son got themselves into a steady apartment, she has two jobs and is working towards become an RN. She is a confident mother of a beautiful, healthy boy.
She continued, “Back when I was pregnant, I couldn’t have imagined this. I truly can’t put value on the experience and knowledge Diana has given me. It’s priceless. There’s still a lot to learn, but I know that I am on the right track and that I’m the best advocate for my family.”
NFP is one the most rigorously tested programs of its kind. Randomized controlled trials conducted over the past 35 years demonstrate multi-generational outcomes for families and their communities. Mothers and children who have participated in the program have consistently shown significantly improved prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, increased maternal employment, improved child school readiness, reduced involvement in crime, and less child abuse, neglect and injuries.
Currently, the program is managed through the Panhandle Health District with 3 staff members, but increasing demand has left 15 women in need on a waiting list to get paired with a nurse. Two additional nurses will be joining the North Idaho team in the coming months. This will allow the program to reach 100 local women at any given time.
Born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, Diana had a nurse mentor her through her first pregnancy and knows how this type of support can impact a life forever. “It’s transforming lives and transforming our community. Strong women like Danielle are just the beginning of a bigger change to break the cycle of poverty.”
Referrals to Nurse-Family partnership are encouraged. For more information on how to apply for the program, call (208) 415-5298.
Melanie Collett is the public information/communications officer at Panhandle Health District.
Coeur d’Alene Press article: http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_9195450a-c79e-5f6a-a32f-10365c4cc918.html