Throughout the United States, the month of May is recognized for many things – springtime, flowers blooming, and of course, Mother’s Day, a holiday to celebrate the immense and vital role mothers play in everyone’s lives and communities.
At Children & Families First, a Delaware based nonprofit organization committed to providing programs and services to help all children and families thrive, every day is Mother’s Day. “The research is clear – mothers who are supported during their pregnancy and through their child’s infancy and toddlerhood are more resilient, better nurture their child’s development, and are more likely to attain and maintain self-sufficiency,” said Zakiya Bakari-Griffin, chief programs officer.
With regular feedback comments from mothers themselves expressing gratitude, that is exactly what Nurse Family Partnership and Healthy Families Delaware home-visiting programs offered by CFF are doing, helping mothers transform their lives and futures, as well as those of their children, for the better.
Keisha, first-time mom to a 21-month-old boy, said, “The first time we had a home visit, I instantly felt comfortable with [my nurse]. She helped me understand what was going on and what was about to happen. In May 2019, my whole life changed. The moment I saw my little man’s face, I instantly fell in love. But I went through postpartum depression. I cried almost every day, but my nurse helped me through. Being a single mom can be hard at times, especially doing it for the first time. The information my nurse provided for me helped me understand my son’s growth and development. I am truly grateful.”
Julie, mother of an 18-month-old son, said, “When I enrolled in home visiting, my boyfriend and I were homeless, and we were scared about having a baby and finding a place to live. I have struggled with schizophrenia and depression, and without stable housing or transportation, it was difficult to maintain my appointments. It made me feel like my life was going downhill. I met with my nurse regularly, and I was able to find housing right before delivery. CFF helped me get ready to have a baby and to stay organized. I am now able to attend my appointments regularly for my mental health. CFF has helped me have a better understanding of being a parent. That makes me feel confident as a mother, that I can provide the greatest care for my son.”
Another program graduate said, “CFF helped me in many ways that I didn’t expect. I received information on topics such as breastfeeding, brain development and parent-infant bonding. These sorts of topics are not taught in school. We’ve graduated from the program, and with as much as my daughter has learned, I almost wish we could keep going. She's 2 years old and she can count to 20, knows her ABCs and can draw at least seven shapes. Maybe this doesn't seem like much, but as a mother watching her child grow, I’m amazed. For this, I have to thank this program and our nurse.”
The home-visiting programs offered by Children & Families First provide structured visits with trained professionals to support healthy pregnancies, healthy births, screenings and checkups, parenting advice, monitoring of children’s developmental milestones, and guidance on navigating other programs and services in the community to help the whole family. All home-visiting services are free to qualifying parents, available statewide in Delaware, and accept referrals and enrollment on a rolling basis.
“If you are a pregnant first-time mom gestation less than 28 weeks, pregnant or have given birth and baby is less than 3 months of age, we have a program to help you lower your stress, protect your health and that of your baby, prepare your child for academic success and support your personal goals like education, employment, and self-sufficiency,” said Bakari-Griffin, “Our home-visiting staff are kind, nurturing, culturally sensitive, and compassionate individuals who recognize the privilege of being invited into the lives of the mothers and children we serve.”
To learn more about Children & Families First home-visiting programs, enroll or make a referral, go to cffde.org/healthy-babies.