This Program Is Proven to Help Moms and Babies. So Why Aren’t We Investing in It More?

Tampa, Florida — Jamir Green wobbled through his living room in a red car-shaped baby walker with a balloon attached. His mother, Tiara Jones, didn’t take her eyes of her exuberant 8-month-old as she reported to the nurse sitting on the couch that breastfeeding was going well.

Polita Williams, in pink and brown scrubs, her hair pulled back in a tight bun, looked at a checklist on her lap and asked if Jamir had been to the emergency room for any reason in the past few weeks. They discussed birth control options and whether Jones could take medication while breastfeeding.

Then the nurse pulled out a piece of paper with her notes from the last visit, when she’d watched Jones playing with Jamir.

“You stayed very cheery and on his level,” Williams said. Jones smiled, keeping her eyes on Jamir. “Your verbal connection was amazing. All the time, you’re talking with him,” Williams continued.

The nurse also had some advice: She noticed that while Jones was playing with Jamir, she switched activities quickly, with no warning. She suggested Jones explain to Jamir what would happen next before transitioning to a new activity. “What that does, is it prevents those tantrums,” Williams said. “It’s just so they don’t feel confused.” Jones nodded.

Jones, who is currently unemployed, jumped at the chance to sign up when she found out about the home visiting program, called the Nurse-Family Partnership, from her doctor. She wanted to learn as much as possible and “get any support or help I can get.”

Williams visits Jones and her son every two weeks. She weighs Jamir on a portable scale on the floor of Jones’ home and then measures his head circumference and his height. She asks questions about Jamir’s health and development, and provides tips on how to deal with teething. As Jamir grows, she’ll help Jones tackle tantrums and watch for speech and language delays. She has encouraged Jones to keep breastfeeding and participate in incentive programs to earn toys and supplies for her son.

Every…

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