A nationally-recognized nonprofit program for low-income, first-time mothers is now coming to the western part of South Carolina.
The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is a special home visiting program that matches registered nurses with first-time mothers to help them become self-sufficient and avoid relying on food stamps and other assistance. Now, the group is expanding into Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, and Saluda counties.
The expansion was made possible by grant money from the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. The agency’s award came from a portion of $2.5 million in federal grants. The federal funding was awarded to states through the US Department of Health and Human Services Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program for implementing evidence-based home visitation programs like NFP.
“This just really strengthens the tool box (in the area),” said Eric Bellamy, the home visiting program coordinator for the Children’s Trust. “It’s not earth-shattering news… but it affords so much more for so many families.”
Bellamy said it’s critical to reach low-income mothers early in their pregnancy. He said those women are more likely to have premature births and low-weight births, which leads to other health problems for the child later in life.
But officials say the program has positive economic effects, as well.
“Some of the great results they’ve had is greatly increasing the number of women who go back into the labor force after they’ve had their child, reducing the number of children that get involved with the Juvenile Justice System at a later age,” South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services director Tony Keck said earlier this year, “So it really is a program that’s focused on the health and well-being of the mother and the child.”
Bellamy said having nurses visit the homes of financially-struggling mothers is especially important in the rural parts of South Carolina. “It’s very hard for the clients to get to places very often when it’s in the rural setting,” he said, “Being able to actually go to the parents and to the families really increases the chance for better care.”
NFP already has locations in 12 other South Carolina counties: Anderson, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Greenville, Horry, Lexington, Richland, Spartanburg and Williamsburg.