mother holds baby while a registered nurse and nursing student provide in-home care

Nursing awarded $3 million to support first-time moms, infants

New Nurse-Family Partnership® at the College of Nursing offers in-home nurse visits for Brazos County families
October 20, 2021

Empowering vulnerable first-time moms to transform their lives and create better futures for themselves and their babies is at the heart of Nurse-Family Partnership®, a nationwide community health program. Grant funds totaling $3 million have been awarded to a team of researchers at Texas A&M University College of Nursing to initiate this evidence-based program in Brazos County.

Research consistently proves that Nurse-Family Partnership® succeeds at its most important goals: keeping children healthy and safe, and improving the lives of mothers and their babies. Specially trained registered nurses will support first-time mothers through regularly scheduled home visits, starting early in the pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday. With an emphasis on low-income, first-time moms, women voluntarily enroll as early as possible but must elect to do so in advance of their 28th week of pregnancy to participate.

“New moms develop a close relationship with a registered nurse who becomes a trusted resource they can rely on for advice on everything from safely caring for their child to taking steps to provide a stable, secure future for their new family,” said Robin Page, PhD, APRN, CNM, FACNM, assistant professor at the College of Nursing and principal investigator for the grant award. “This relationship fosters confidence and offers vulnerable first-time mothers with a network of supportive caregivers as they navigate motherhood.”

Beginning November 2021, an initial cohort of three registered nurses will be dedicated to serving first-time mothers, offering support through the emotional, social and physical challenges they face in preparation for a healthy birth. Prenatal guidance is the starting point, but nurses will continue to provide care post-delivery, helping the new mother and child by teaching skills that foster growth and development. Current prelicensure nursing students will have the opportunity to shadow these RNs and gain firsthand experience as they complete clinical hours as part of the bachelor’s degree in nursing curriculum.

Each registered nurse will serve 25 to 30 first-time mothers and their children within Brazos County, which includes the cities of Bryan, College Station, Millican, Kurten and Wixon Valley. In addition to the nurse home visits, mothers that enroll will have access to specialized counseling services through the Texas A&M Counseling and Assessment Clinic. This includes a range of services, including emotional and cognitive development assessment for the infant, and overall mental health support for the new mother.

A community health worker will also join the team to serve as one of the primary liaisons within the community providing outreach and engagement with current and potential supporters of the initiative. Once the program is underway, a fourth RN dedicated to home visits is set to join the college in 2022.

As part of the grant application process, letters of support were provided by the Brazos Valley Health Coalition, Voices for Children—Court Appointed Special Advocates, College Station ISD Early Education Services and Catholic Charities of Central Texas. Clinical partners currently include The Prenatal Clinic, HealthPoint, Texas A&M Health Family Care and Texas A&M Counseling and Assessment Clinic.

The goals of Nurse-Family Partnership® at Texas A&M University College of Nursing are to:

  1. Improve pregnancy outcomes by helping women engage in preventive health practices, including thorough prenatal care from their health care providers, improving their diets and reducing their use of cigarettes, alcohol and other substances
  2. Improve child health and development by helping parents provide responsible and competent care
  3. Improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents develop a vision for their own future, plan future pregnancies, continue their education and find work

First-time mothers may be referred by their obstetrician, may self-enroll or may be directed by an advocate as a recipient of state-funded health benefits including CHIP or Medicaid. To learn more about Nurse-Family Partnership® at Texas A&M University College of Nursing, please visit nursing.tamu.edu/nfp.

The interdisciplinary project team includes:

Principal investigator

Co-investigators

  • Cindy Weston, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CHSE, Associate Dean for Clinical and Outreach Affairs and Associate Professor, Texas A&M College of Nursing
  • Alison Pittman, PhD, RN, CPN, CNE, CHSE, Clinical Assistant Professor, Texas A&M College of Nursing
  • Heather Clark, DrPH, Director of Public Health Practice and Research Assistant Professor, Texas A&M School of Public Health
  • Krystal Simmons, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University College of Education and Human Development, and Executive Director of the Texas A&M Counseling & Assessment Clinic (CAC)

— Kala McCain

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