The Benton County Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program, funded through the Public Safety Sales Tax, is an evidence-based, community health program that serves low-income women pregnant with their first child.
Each vulnerable new mom who volunteers to be part of the program is partnered with a registered nurse early in her pregnancy and receives ongoing nurse home visits.
Nurse-Family Partnership helps families — and the communities they live in — become stronger while saving money for state, local and federal governments.
The Benton County NFP program was funded through the county’s Gang & Crime Prevention Initiative, a section of the Public Safety Sales Tax, in 2016 and has been growing ever since.
NFP currently has two nurses who serve 50 families in Benton County. NFP started in Franklin County in 2013 and is funded through the Federal Maternal, Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program through the Washington State Department of Early Learning.
NFP in Benton and Franklin counties is managed through the Benton-Franklin Health District, and both counties are currently taking referrals.
The Nurse Family Partnership, one of the biggest of the home visiting programs, was started in the late 1970s by a doctor named David Olds. Mothers who received the visits smoked less, and they had fewer preterm births and fewer incidents of abuse or neglect.
Children were healthier, safer and more prepared for school. Over the next decade and a half, Dr. Olds tested it in three very different communities, with similar results. The program now serves 33,000 families in 42 states. In Washington alone, NFP has served 14 counties, 13 agencies and 9,517 families since 1999.
Three randomized controlled trials demonstrate that the work of NFP results in healthier pregnancies, including a reduction in child abuse and neglect, improvements in cognitive and language development, fewer childhood injuries, and many more cost-saving outcomes to government and society.
In early childhood, research on the biology of stress shows how major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse or neglect, can weaken developing brain architecture and permanently set the body’s stress response system on high alert.
According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, what happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime. In order to successfully manage our community’s future, we must recognize problems and address them before they get worse.
The Benton County Board of Commissioners saw the need for a program like NFP in our county and the positive impact it would have on the health and safety of our children and our communities, and we did everything we could to get it here.
By funding the Nurse Family Partnership program in Benton County, we are addressing the issues and needs of the most vulnerable members of our community — young mothers and their children, living in the most difficult circumstances — and, in turn, improving the public safety and health of our community.
We are excited to continue watching this program grow and develop, as it begins to serve more families.