Families with tiniest members soon to get home visits

Gainesville Sun

Families with newborns soon will get help with making sure their little ones have the best chance for early childhood success.

Thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Alachua County Commission, Healthy Start of North Central Florida in March will launch the NewboRN Home Visiting Program to provide services designed to help children succeed early in life — academically, emotionally and socially.

Registered nurses from UF Health Shands Home Care team, Nursecore of Gainesville, a national home care services and medical staffing company, and licensed midwives with the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery, will make a one-time home visit to mothers of newborns within seven days of leaving the hospital to assess the infants’ and mothers’ emotional stability, health and social support, said Julie Moderie, chief operating officer and program director for Health Start North Central Florida, an arm of the WellFlorida Council.

“The RN will assist the mom with breastfeeding, safe sleeping, how to soothe a crying baby, the importance of parent-infant bonding and many other issues parents may need help with,” Moderie said.

The family partners will also, if needed, connect the families with resources to help them get counseling for postpartum depression, clothing, food, housing and other services, she said.

The family partners will meet with every mother who delivers a baby in their facilities and lives in Alachua County to educate them about the program and to get their consent, Moderie said.

Program officials estimate 95 percent of mothers will consent to receive the home visit, which may vary in length, depending on each family’s needs.

Moderie estimated that most visits will take about two hours.

The program is the brainchild of the Children’s Services Advisory Board that was created in 2016, in part, to recommend funding for innovative programs to address the early developmental needs of children ages birth to 5 and their families.

The program is modeled after programs in St. Lucie and Martin counties in Florida, Massachusetts and South Carolina, Moderie said.

County Commission Chair Lee Pinkoson said investing in the early developmental success of children in all aspects of their lives will pay off in the long run because statistics show they will be more likely to become productive citizens. To properly address poverty in the county, more needs to be done to prepare children for success in life, he said.

“Children initiatives have always been near and dear to my heart,” Pinkoson said.

The home visit program is looking for businesses, civic and religious organizations and individuals to donate or become sponsors to help buy bottles, car seats, clothes and other items, Moderie said.

Bobby Crooms, a father of five and branch administrator for Nursecore of Gainesville, said his organization is excited to be a part of the program.

“We think being a part of this program is important for many reasons,” he said. “Number one, it’s important that mothers and their newborn babies have the necessary items that they need and that they continue to get the care they need after being discharged from the hospital. I think this is an excellent program.”

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