In this segment, Roxane White describes the mission of the Nurse-Family Partnership, which is to help transform the lives of vulnerable first-time moms and their babies. Roxane outlines how the organization creates a culture of success through mutual motivation. Through ongoing home visits from registered nurses, low-income, first-time moms receive the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, provide responsible and competent care for their children, and become more economically self-sufficient.
The following is conversation between Roxane White, President and CEO of Nurse- Family Partnership, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving, on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.
Denver: Over the last several months, we’ve had on the show the CEOs of the organizations that rate charities–from Charity Navigator to GreatNonprofits. And if you visited their websites to check on how they rated the Nurse-Family Partnership, you would see that it’s been awarded the maximum number of plaudits and stars. And here to tell you why that is the case, is the President and CEO of the Nurse-Family Partnership, Roxane White. Good evening, Roxane, and welcome to The Business of Giving.
Roxane: Thank you so much. It’s delightful to be here!
Denver: Tell us about the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP)–what the central mission and purposes of the organization are.
Roxane: Well, what we do is really pretty basic and simple in many ways. We work with moms who are low-income, and we go into the home before they deliver their baby. We help them deliver a healthy baby; we support the mom to raise a healthy child, and then we help Mom get back on track as well.
Denver: Let me ask you this: What compelled you to take the CEO job at the Nurse-Family Partnership? I know you’ve been a tireless advocate for fighting homelessness and supporting youth. Most recently, you served as the Chief of Staff for the governor of Colorado. What inspired you to take on this job?
Roxane: My first encounter with the Nurse-Family Partnership was when I was working with street kids. I had a young mom who was ready to get off the street, and she was becoming a mom. And I called Nurse-Family Partnership, and I was like: “Yeah, right. Nobody really wants a street kid.” And they took her! They helped her, and she turned her life around. The second time I was working in child welfare, and I was at an autopsy of a young person who had died. Family had failed: the foster family had failed; government, sure as Hell, can’t raise kids. So, I was asking our staff, “What can we do?” They said, “There’s a program that can reduce child abuse by over 48% and has a track record of doing that.” And we started working with Nurse-Family Partnership and got much better outcomes for families.
And then when I was Chief of Staff for the governor of Colorado, we were looking at what the heck do we do about Medicaid costs that were completely out of control! And we brought in Nurse-Family Partnership as a way to reduce the cost to taxpayers of delivering unhealthy babies.
Denver: They made quite an impression on you. Let’s walk through the process a little bit. Give us a picture of the typical mother you serve–her age, education, race, marital status– things like that.
Roxane: All of our moms are low-income, and all of our moms are at risk for a high-risk pregnancy. So they’re identified by their docs, by pregnancy testing places, by community advocates who say: “Hey, we got a mom here that’s going to deliver a baby.” Often, they are young moms; they may be teen moms. We don’t take any moms generally under the age of 14–but from 14 until about 30. There are moms who are at risk of having a baby born into the ICU unit, a baby being born unhealthy, a mom who’s not prepared to be a mom. So, our most vulnerable moms are the most expensive moms in terms of that delivery. And then we go into the home, and we start working with her. We’re in the home at least every other week, if not more often before she delivers the baby, to help her deliver a baby on time, at a healthy birth weight.
Denver: Let me pick up on that teen mom issue– that has always been a big question. Are we making any progress in this country, Roxanne, in getting teen mom birth rates down?