This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the final phase of the 2018-19 Budget, including a substantial increase in funding for the Department of Public Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership, designating $14 million in additional funds through the Mental Health Services Act.
The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program is an evidence-based model program that was developed by Dr. David Olds in Elmira, New York in 1977 to help young women take good care of themselves and their babies.
Understanding that the prenatal and very early years are a critical period for childhood health intervention, the LA Department of Public Health began implementing the Nurse-Family Partnership program in September of 1997. Through this program, specially trained public health nurses conduct home visits with high-risk, low-income pregnant youth/women who are pregnant for the first time and who are living in poverty. All services are free and voluntary and families can use the program until the first-born child reaches the age of 2 years old.
The main objectives of the program are to:
- Improve Pregnancy Outcomes
- Improve Child Health and Development
- Improve Mother’s Life Course
- Prevent child abuse and neglect
- Reduce premature births and low birth weight births
- Reduce substance abuse, alcohol use, and cigarette smoking during pregnancy
- Improve breastfeeding rates
- Reduce the number of children’s healthcare encounters for injuries and ingestion of poisons from birth through a child’s second birthday
- Help increase labor force participation on the part of mothers by the first child’s fourth birthday
- Improve graduation rates and/or increase employment of the mothers served
- Reduce subsequent pregnancies among low-income, unmarried women by the first child’s fourth birthday.
The Nurse-Family Partnership program is funded in multiple ways, including by a Maternal and Child Health Services block grant, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) through the L.A. Department of Mental Health, and through the federally funded California Home Visiting Program. When appropriate, NFP also pulls down matching funding from the federal Targeted Case Management program.
The Supplemental Budget passed on Tuesday including a $14 million increase in funding for the Nurse-Family Partnership, brings their budget from $6 million a year to $20 million a year. The additional funds are fully offset by Mental Health Services Act funding from the Department of Mental Health. With this funding, the partnership will be able to expand the capacity of contracted agencies to provide home visiting services in high-risk communities throughout the County, as well as screen and refer participants for mental health treatment when deemed necessary. At this time, there many more pregnant youth eligible for these services than the current program can serve, so the additional funding will make a significant impact in reaching these individuals and families.
The health and well-being of Los Angeles County’s future community members are deeply influenced by their experiences as children, and early intervention can lead to transformative changes not only for families but entire communities. Through the Nurse-Family Partnership, nurses provide these expectant and new moms with increased confidence and the tools they need to assure a healthy start for their babies and also enable them to envision a life of stability and opportunity for their family.