Do you remember that amazing feeling of being discharged from the hospital, heading home with your precious bundle of joy while also feeling completely shocked that the nurses and doctors casually waved you off when you had absolutely no idea what you were doing? I personally wanted to stay at the hospital longer where I felt supported and cared for. Heading home meant I was left to figure out newborn care on my own, while attempting to care for myself and heal from birth.
The immediate postpartum period is a delicate time for new families. Research shows that 95% of all families have needs after the birth of a child.
Can you imagine a trained nurse visiting you at home just a few weeks after giving birth to offer more support? That’s exactly what United Way for Greater Austin, Austin Public Health, and other partners are offering to families in five counties in Texas. The successful program, Family Connects Texas, bridges the gap between parents and community resources and has been shown to improve family well-being, including reducing emergency medical care for infants and postpartum anxiety.
Family Connects Texas provides between one and three nurse home visits for free to every family with a newborn beginning at about three weeks of age, regardless of income. Using a tested screening tool, the nurse measures newborn and maternal health and can then assist with immediate health needs or parenting questions, and is able to provide expert advice about maternal anxiety, postpartum depression, lactation support, and childcare, including a plan for parents going back to work. The nurse is also able to provide support through more long-term community services such as: health care appointments, child care services, parenting support groups, and financial and social supports that promote family functioning and child-wellbeing.
For many families, a single visit from a health professional can provide the support and access to resources that have significant positive outcomes.
In participating communities, 80% of families accept the home visit and more than 60% follow up on referrals provided for additional services. Through the nurse home visits as well as alignment with other community services, the program has seen amazing results in families and communities.
- 50% less infant emergency medical care at 12 months
- 39% fewer CPS investigations at five years
- 28% less likely to report symptoms of maternal anxiety
- Plus: every $1 invested leads to $3 in health care cost savings
Due to Covid-19, families are being discharged from the hospital much earlier than usual to limit exposure. This measure is taken to protect the family, but leaves the family with less support and less access to life changing programs.
Bringing a baby home is hard enough. Family Connects Texas is continuing to serve the community through this crisis and is taking necessary steps to keep families safe by now offering telehealth visits. Here are some easy ways you can help all families with newborns get a little extra help and more reassurance:
- Share details about the program with your friends, family members, and coworkers and encourage all to participate in Family Connects Texas if eligible by requesting a visit using this simple form.
- Advocate for a Family Connects program in your own hometown if it doesn’t already exist.
Not in Texas? That’s ok! The more people know and talk about programs like Family Connects, the better. Plus, Family Connects was launched through Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy and currently offers free programming in 11 states.