Program Helps First-Time Moms Prepare For Parenthood

Wednesday, July 11th 2007, 8:40 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa program is helping first-time moms become better parents. It's part of the national nurse-family partnership program. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports the program has seen such a success, the U.S. Senate is now considering expanding it.

Twice a month, nurse Betsy Pontius drops in on Kelly Chappelle and her daughter Elliana. She visited the two, even before little Elliana was born. And she'll keep checking in, until Ellie reaches her second birthday. As a first-time mom, Kelly Chappelle says the visits have been a blessing.

"I never was a babysitter. I don't have sisters and brothers. So, I got this baby and I was like what do I do!" said Chappelle.

Enter Children First. The program pairs a registered nurse with a first-time mom, during her pregnancy. Nurses like Betsy Pontius help moms prepare, adjust and grow as parents, while checking on babies’ growth, health and development.

"Having a one on one relationship, where you see the mom every two weeks, just encouraging her, I think a lot of moms want the best thing. They don't know where to get the information from,” Pontius said.

"Since it's just me and her, she kinda makes sure I'm doing things, keeping me on what stages to expect. And what she should be eating and keeps me on track on stuff like that,” Chappelle said.

Last year, Children First enrolled 2,500 first-time Oklahoma moms and served more than 5,000 Oklahoma families. The organization reports the one-on-one visits pay off with lower infant mortality rates, fewer incidents of child abuse and neglect and higher employment rates and better education for moms.

A study by the Brookings Institution found that for every dollar invested in programs like Children First, we save almost $3.

There's a bill in the U.S. Senate to expand the program nationwide and give states more than $10 million to administer it.

Watch the video: Children First