May 11, 2022

Nurse-Family Partnership Brings Care Home for First-Time Parents

By giving nurses the tools they need, Nurse-Family Partnership strives to ensure that new families get everything they need to thrive.

Author Aly Semigran, Content Specialist

National Philanthropic Trust’s donors recommend thousands of grants every year. This new series, Grants In Action, highlights the breadth of causes and organizations NPT’s donors are supporting with grant recommendations from their donor-advised fund accounts.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” That oft-cited proverb felt more like a challenge throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as parents had to rethink and readjust to what childcare looked like during a public health crisis. After all, what happens when that village has to maintain social distancing measures and go fully virtual?

For Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), this was an especially pertinent issue. The organization matches a free-of-cost personal nurse with a mom-to-be to work one-on-one with them throughout their pregnancy and into their baby’s infancy. Since 1996, NFP has served more than 360,000 qualified families, helping improve the health and wellbeing of first-time mothers and infants. The collective impact of this “two-generation approach” produces impressive results: it reduces the rates of emotional or intellectual problems and ER visits for children, improves employment outcomes for mothers, reduces families’ interactions with the criminal justice system, and is the consensus pick for early intervention preventing child abuse and neglect.

Nursing is a profession of giving. When people support nurses, it lets them know that they’re appreciated, and they value their lifelong commitment to this calling.

However, the pandemic required much of this work to pivot to telehealth and other virtual solutions. The mission of NFP, despite difficult circumstances, remained the same—ensuring that first-time mothers still got the care and services they needed. This was especially urgent for communities that were impacted disproportionately by the disease. As NFP’s Interim Chief Philanthropy Officer Michele Werner points out, those who were “affected by social and economic inequality were extremely hard hit by the pandemic.”

In order to better serve these families, NFP partnered with the Family Independence Initiative to direct additional cash grants to NFP mothers. NFP also discovered that roughly ten percent of their clients did not have reliable phones, which made staying in touch with their nurse even more challenging. NFP launched the Phones for Families program with support from Verizon, and distributed about 3,800 cell phones to clients during the pandemic.

The nurses who partner with NFP have faced their own set of challenges. As frontline workers, they were often called upon to provide additional COVID-19 care, such as contact tracing and administering vaccines, all while caring for their NFP clients. “[The pandemic] put a tremendous burden on nurses across the country,” Werner acknowledges.

Today, even as NFP nurses head back to working with their clients in-person, support for these caregivers is crucial. “Nursing is a profession of giving,” Werner says. “When people support nurses, it lets them know that they’re appreciated, and they value their lifelong commitment to this calling.”

So much of what NFP does for nurses and families alike, Werner explains, comes directly from donors. Nearly 70 percent of the organization’s funding is from charitable giving, a significant portion of which comes from donor-advised funds (DAF). “Donor-advised funds are really important to our organization. We’ve received over 400 donor-advised fund [grants] in the last four years,” Werner notes.

DAF grants, Werner explains, helps fund operational support at the national service office headquartered in Denver. The national office supports the network partner sites, working in 40 states, Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and in some Tribal communities. For tribes, NFP works with a tribal community advisor to help deliver services with cultural competency.

Local NFP programs are based at hospitals, nonprofits and health departments that hire nurses to implement the program in their communities. The National Service Office for Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First provides local NFP programs with all the tools necessary to best serve the families they support.

Donor impact is nationwide and multi-generational, Werner says. “DAF donors feel like when they make a gift to NFP, they’re able to really leverage giving their support to our organization and support our programs in local communities. They know that they’re making an impact across the country.”