Kori Bodle has faced several exciting challenges during the past few months, including launching a career, getting a driver’s license, buying a car, and planning a wedding. Now pregnant with her first child, she considers herself fortunate to be able to rely on the advice from the personal nurse provided through Project Self-Sufficiency’s Nurse Family Partnership program, particularly as she navigates her first pregnancy during a pandemic.
“I didn’t think I would be able to have children, so just getting pregnant was a surprise. I’m 28 weeks pregnant now and I’m feeling great,” commented Bodle, who works as a Behavioral Technician at a Sussex County drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility and has started coursework towards the next step in her career. “We had a case of Covid-19 at work, so I stopped working for a week. I got tested and went back to work. I want to get certified as a Peer Recovery Specialist.”
Women who are pregnant with their first child can receive regular visits from a nurse in the privacy of their own home through the Nurse Family Partnership program offered by Project Self-Sufficiency. Due to the current public health crisis, all contact has been modified to replace in-person visits with video chat platforms and telehealth options. Eligible, first-time mothers of all ages are paired with a nurse who visits them throughout the pregnancy and up until the child’s second birthday. Nurse-Family Partnership is founded on the pioneering work of David Olds, professor of pediatrics, psychiatry, and preventive medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. Olds' determination to help young children and families get a better start in life led to the development of a nurse home visitation program for first-time, low-income moms and their children. The voluntary program was tested extensively prior to its launch in 1996; since then it has served more than 260,000 families in 42 states, the United States Virgin Islands and six tribal communities. The initiative is one of three different home visitation programs for young mothers which is provided by Project Self-Sufficiency to families in northwestern New Jersey.
The visiting nurses provide support, education and counseling on health, behavioral and self-sufficiency issues. “Our goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes, and to assist parents with improving early childhood development, while helping the family to move towards economic self-sufficiency,” explains Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “All of the home visitation programs offered by Project Self-Sufficiency are designed to empower mothers to be the best parents they can be.”
Nurse Family Partnership is one the most rigorously tested programs of its kind. Mothers and children who have participated in the program have consistently demonstrated 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.
“I’m super exited to become a mother. I’m a little scared about giving birth, but I want to try to do it naturally. I feel pretty good about it, but there’s a lot I need to learn on the way. I’m always reading and looking stuff up,” added Bodle. “Thanks to the Nurse Family Partnership, I feel like I’ve been educated, and I have learned about resources I didn’t even know existed. My nurse has been great. She has sent me all kinds of information about different subjects, like labor and delivery, along with a growth chart for the baby. We have been doing Zoom meetings and talking on the phone. Knowing she is there is reassuring. I wish we could meet in person – I can’t wait. She’s really awesome.”
Project Self-Sufficiency has served families in the New Jersey counties of Sussex, Warren, and Hunterdon for more than 30 years. The agency offers career guidance, computer training, help with obtaining a high school diploma, parenting skills classes, legal assistance and education, financial workshops, health education, childcare and family activities. Support during the holidays, formal dresses for prom season, and assistance with emergency basic needs, such as food and clothing is also available to participants. Most services are free and many are open to the public.
Those who are interested in learning more about the Nurse-Family Partnership, or any of the other programs offered at Project Self-Sufficiency, are encouraged to call 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500, or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.