The goals of the program are: Improve pregnancy outcomes; improve child health and development; and improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family.
The program achieves these goals by helping women engage in good preventive health practices, including obtaining thorough prenatal care from their healthcare providers, improving their diet, and reducing their use of cigarettes, alcohol and illegal substances; child health and development is improved by helping parents provide responsible and competent care for their children; and economic self-sufficiency is improved by helping parents develop a vision for their own future, plan future pregnancies, continue their education and find work.
Becoming a mother for the first time is an event associated with a large amount of change in a woman’s life. It is hypothesized that such women would be more receptive to home-visitation services than women who had already given birth. Moreover, the skills and resources these mothers develop in coping with their first pregnancies and children set a pattern for their parenting of any children they have later. In addition, generally it will be easier for women to return to school and work if they plan for and space subsequent children.
Serving low-income women allows a focus on families with limited resources who are more likely to experience increased risk factors. Each community determines their own measure of what constitutes low-income, often using the same local income guidelines as programs like WIC and Medicaid. “Proof of income” procedures, however, are discouraged as they create barriers for entry. If the client is referred by Medicaid or WIC, income status has already been ascertained.
Nurse home visits are scheduled:
- Weekly during the first month following enrollment;
- Twice a month for the remainder of the pregnancy;
- Weekly during the first six weeks after delivery;
- Twice a month thereafter through the 21st month of childhood; and
- Monthly until the child reaches age two.
During these visits NFP nurses follow visit guidelines which provide a comprehensive structure for working with families. The visits focus on several areas of content: personal health, environmental health, quality of care giving for the child, maternal life course development, family and friend support and health and human service utilization.