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Supporters Say Nurse-Home Visits Help Ohio Children Grow

March 26, 2009

Columbus, OH – During tough economic times, money can become scarce for public health programs, even when they can show and quantify positive results. That's why work is underway in Ohio to maintain state funding for "Help Me Grow," the system that supports nurses' home visitation for at-risk children to help give them the best possible start in life.

As founder of the Nurse-Family Partnership, Dr. David Olds, explains, the program focuses on low-income mothers who are at a social disadvantage.

"They are at considerable risk for having difficulties in maternal and child health and, if you work with first-time mothers, they are more receptive to offers of help, especially from nurses."

Olds sees benefits not only for families, but for the state - from a public health standpoint.

"If you get families off to a good start with their firstborns, they're more likely to care competently for subsequent children - and that's especially likely if they've been able to plan subsequent pregnancies."

And home-based programs offer an advantage over those based in a center, according to Lucas County's "Help Me Grow" Project Coordinator, Kristi Hannan.

"It's individualized to every single family, what their needs and resources are; and we are meeting the family in their home, in their natural environment."

Nurse visitation programs operate with several goals, Olds explains: to improve pregnancy outcomes through preventive health practices, improve child health and development, and to help the family with economic self-sufficiency.

Currently, "Help Me Grow" funds support nurse-home visiting in all of Ohio's counties. Funding for such programs is also included in President Obama's FY 2010 budget plan.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH