By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Young mothers will have continued support to bring healthy children into the world through a new county program.
At-risk women can enjoy long-term family improvements in health, education, and economic self-sufficiency through the Nurse-Family Partnership program.
“This is a really good opportunity to reach out to young mothers and give them the help they need to provide a happy healthy life for their children and themselves,” Community Health Manager Michelle Cullen said.
Clinton County has a history of high teen birth rates. In the 2012 County Health Rankings, Clinton County had one of the highest teen birth rates with 44 per 1,000 females ages 15-19, high above the state rate of 33 and the national benchmark of 22.
There are only 10 counties of the 99 counties in Iowa that reported rates above 44.
The county also ranks 14th in teen birth rate among all counties in Iowa and sixth among Iowa’s 29 counties with populations from 20,000-100,000 people, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Cullen is busy writing the grant and gathering information to form the new county program to combat the problem. The partnership is part of an evidence-based federal program designed to help transform the lives of vulnerable mothers pregnant with their first child. Each mother served by NFP is partnered with a registered nurse early in her pregnancy and receives ongoing nurse home visits that continue through her child’s second birthday.
These home visits offer low-income, first-time moms the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, provide responsible and competent care for their children, and become more economically self-sufficient, according to the Nurse-Family Partnership web site.
Setting the standard for excellence, Nurse-Family Partnership transforms lives through the power of relationships serving every eligible family in every community, according to the program’s vision statement.
Once the proposal is submitted for the Clinton County program Jan. 24, Cullen will begin meeting with program coordinators to establish how it will work and which nurses will be selected. Iowa was selected to receive funding for 18 counties that showed a large number of high-risk, low-income pregnancies. Three of those counties have already implemented programs and seen success, according to Cullen.
Now programs are rolling out in the remaining 15 counties, including Clinton, Scott and Muscatine.
The Clinton County program will employ one nurse from Clinton County and two nurses from Scott County. A new supervisor will start in February and help Cullen get the policies and procedures in order. This unique program is currently only offered through Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa.
Clinton County Visiting Nurse Services currently has a program for reaching out to teen moms that has seen growth over the past two years.
Teens are referred from their schools and receive education on everything from changing diapers to supporting their children and building strong relationships.