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Buncombe's NFP Team: Working with Families, Changing Lives

Buncombe County’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) team continues to garner accolades for its work while having a significant effect on our community. The NFP is an evidence-based, community health program aimed at low-income women pregnant with their first child. The program pairs a registered nurse with mothers early in their pregnancy through the child’s first two years. During that time information about healthy pregnancies, nuances of toddler health and development issues, and peripheral issues such as economic advancement and self-sufficiency are discussed.

NFP Supervisor Connie Toscano says aspects of the program are very intentional. “Pregnancy outcomes are improved by supporting mothers in engaging in preventive health practices such as routine prenatal care, understanding the importance of healthy diets, and the risks of substance use during pregnancy,” explains Toscano.

“Child health and development is improved by helping parents provide responsible and competent care through encouraging routine child-health checkups, up-to-date childhood vaccines, completing routine developmental screens with referrals as needed, and educating parents on normal child development and effective parenting strategies."

The County’s 11-member team truly integrates itself in the lives of the families it partners with as they engage in school, work, and home visits helping to ensure a holistic understanding of each family and its unique needs and opportunities. “The nurses interact with whomever the client chooses to have involved with her visit including referral sources, medical providers, mental health and/or substance abuse providers, and other County community partners,” says Toscano.

This comprehensive effort is paying dividends to the community and empowering and exciting County employees. NFP team member and registered nurse Michelle Tyson says the home visits are invaluable for helping new families navigate the difficulties of parenthood. Tyson relays a teachable moment when she was able to discuss the issue of age-appropriate punitive measures. “I explained that her toddler’s job was exploring, and her job is to keep him safe. The conversation expanded further into communication, fostering a trusting relationship with her child, teaching by example, and other methods that would elicit the behavior she desired for her child,” explains Tyson.

“This is why I love what I do. My work makes a difference not just in the life of this mother and child, but also in the lives of his children. NFP nurses really do make a difference one baby at a time.”

Toscano piggybacks on that sentiment noting that only a small change is necessary to pivot previous behaviors and foster health-conscious decisions. “I have witnessed multiple times a mother learn how to read her baby’s cue and then respond appropriately. This simple action promotes a secure attachment between mom and baby, which lays a solid foundation for a child’s future,” exclaims Toscano.

The County’s NFP team recently received high marks and accolades during its annual evaluation. “Most of our measured outcomes are consistently the highest in the state. The NFP National Service Office and NC State Consultants frequently refer to our program as a standard for how to deliver the NFP program,” says Toscano.

For more information on the County’s NFP program or to learn about qualifying and referrals, visit the website here or call (828) 250-5072.