October 8, 2008

Reed & Whitehouse Announce $500,000 for Rhode Island Nurse-Family Partnership Initiative

New Program Aimed at Preventing Child Abuse and Helping Expecting Moms and Dads Transition to Parenthood

WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to improve prenatal and infant care and prevent child abuse and neglect, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and its partners will receive a $500,000 federal grant to launch the Rhode Island Nurse-Family Partnership Initiative. This program helps at-risk, first-time mothers and fathers transition into parenthood by providing home visits from a trained registered nurse. During these periodic visits, which begin during pregnancy and span through the child’s second birthday, the nurse provides health and parenting education and other support services. Congressmen Kennedy and Langevin also supported this grant application.

Through the Rhode Island Nurse-Family Partnership Initiative, Rhode Island will become the first state in New England to replicate the Nurse-Family Partnership model and will work to sustain and expand the model over time. Children’s Friend & Service will be the anchor Nurse-Family Partnership site as the initiative is launched. Initial participants will be recruited primarily from three of Rhode Island’s core cities — Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls.

“I commend Rhode Island KIDS COUNT for its outstanding efforts to defend and protect the interests of our most vulnerable children. This nationally-recognized program has been proven to be effective at improving the health and development of children and their parents,” said Reed. “Nurses visit expecting moms in their home environment and offer valuable advice on safety, health, and nutrition. They educate new parents and make sure the family has access to vital medical care and social services.”

“Adjusting to the challenges of parenthood can be difficult for everyone, especially when resources and support are scarce,” said Whitehouse. “By ensuring that the assistance of a nurse is available to those who need it, this program will help new parents provide loving and stable homes for their children.”

“The Nurse-Family Partnership is a proven model that gets families off to the right start,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. “This federal funding provides a unique opportunity to leverage public and private investments so that we can make real progress in reducing the child abuse and neglect rate among infants and toddlers in our state.”

According to Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, as of December 31, 2007, there were more than 1,000 infants and toddlers under the age of three in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). In recent years, Rhode Island has seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of children under age 3 who have experienced abuse and neglect. DCYF reports that children under age one are the fastest growing segment of the child welfare population. Between 2000 and 2007, the Department saw a 70% increase in the number of child abuse and neglect victims under age 1.

“This initiative will bring critical supports to first-time parents in our most at risk communities,” said David Caprio, Executive Director of Children’s Friend. “This cost-effective, well-tested prevention model will put children on a path to healthy development and will save costs in the long-run by keeping more children out of the child welfare system.”

The Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center (affiliated with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University) will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the program, including process, outcome and cost-benefit analyses. “We are delighted to collaborate with Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, and other state and community partners, to evaluate the impact of this model for Rhode Island’s children,” stated Ronald Seifer, Ph. D. Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University and Research Director, E. P. Bradley Hospital. “As scientists, we are delighted that the Nurse-Family Partnership model was chosen based on previous research findings in other states and communities.”

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT will lead the planning process and support the infrastructure development necessary for the widespread adoption, implementation and maintenance of the Nurse-Family Partnership model. Other partners include the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families; the Rhode Island Department of Health; the Rhode Island Department of Human Services; and the Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921