August 10, 2020
Finding Support On The Pregnancy Journey: Grace
When Grace was 18, she found out she was pregnant. A senior in high school, she wasn't sure where to turn for information on her new reality or how to juggle her responsibilities.
"I went to my school nurse, I think I was hungry, and she was telling me about these nurses that visit and all of these resources," Grace says of first hearing about EveryStep's Nurse-Family Partnership program. "I was immediately interested."
The national program matches first-time parents with a home visiting nurse who provides ongoing education and support during the pregnancy and until the child turns 2 years old.
A recent 18-Year Follow-Up study examined a number of families from Memphis, Tenn., who participated in the program. The study looked at outcomes mainly for the children born to mothers who took part in the program.
In all, the report found that the program significantly improved the cognitive functioning and academic performance for children, improved economic self-sufficiency for participants and resulted in a government cost savings of $17,310 per family.
Grace is a prime example of the success participants can have in the program.
With a strong desire to graduate and create safe and stable life for herself and her child, Grace was officially enrolled in the NFP program and began meeting with EveryStep nurse Jennifer Boeding.
"Because I was a first-time mom, I didn't really know much," Grace recalls. "My nurse had told me that the program could help educate me and I could ask questions. They could tell me things to do and not to do."
During their meetings, Jennifer provided Grace with information on the pregnancy journey and the birthing process, being sure to answer any questions she had about her future.
Grace made it known from the start that she had a strong desire to graduate and ensure she and her son had a safe and stable life.
With encouragement from Jennifer, Grace was able to plan ahead, work hard and graduate early from high school.
"Jennifer, she's very nice," Grace says. "She's caring, she checks on me. She motivates me when I'm going through a tough time. She tells me I'm a strong person."
After Grace's son Henry was born in April 2018, she began planning her next steps, which included finding new housing.
With Jennifer's help, Grace applied for housing in the Oakridge Neighborhood, though she'd have to wait for a spot. Still, Grace regularly called to check on her spot and advocated for herself and Henry.
During the next year, Grace continued to meet with Jennifer, asking questions about Henry's development and ensuring he was meeting traditional benchmarks.
"She told me what was coming next, what I should be expecting, like when Henry started crawling," Grace notes.
Grace recalled one time when Jennifer went the extra mile to help her.
"I'm not sure if Henry was allergic to something, but he drank a lot of prune juice one night, and woke up with a rash on his back," she notes. "I took a picture and sent it to Jennifer and she was able to help. She sent me some names of creams that I could get for him."
Grace continued to advocate for herself and Henry, and with Jennifer's ongoing encouragement, she kept on top of her housing situation. When the waitlist stalled, she used the tools she learned from the NFP program to send emails and obtain letters of support for her family. Eventually she and Henry moved into their new home.
In addition to securing a home for herself and her son, Grace used what she'd learned from the program to maintain consistent employment since she graduated high school. Her latest goal is working toward economic self-sufficiency, a primary goal of the program.
While Grace is nearing the end of her time with the program - Henry's second birthday - she wants others to know that there are resources available to them.
"If you already know what to do, that's one thing," she says. "But sometimes to have somebody there to help you and give you advice. If you're confused or you're a new mom and don't know something, they can help you."
Are you pregnant or know someone who is? EveryStep can help. Call 515-558-9946 or complete our easy online form.