Seeing support in the New York State Senate for Maternal Home Visiting programs like Nurse-Family Partners (NFP) is thrilling. Senator Brad Hoylman explains this support in his opinion piece in the Gotham Gazette.
Programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, Healthy Families NY, and Parents as Teachers are collectively known as Maternal Home Visiting programs. They pair new mothers or families struggling with their own trauma, poverty, and isolation with a professional who provides emotional support, guidance, and parenting help. The benefits for the new mother or family include reduced maternal poverty, reduced maternal addiction, and reduced postpartum death. They also are one of the few social service programs that prevent childhood trauma from starting. Childhood trauma is linked to diminished physical, mental, social, and financial health among adults, making it a significant factor in most modern society’s banes.
Children who go through these programs are more likely to enter school ready to succeed. They and their families are spared costly and traumatic interactions with ACS and the foster care system. Pregnant mothers who enroll are less likely to have a preterm delivery. And taxpayers are spared the cost of all of this; these programs save taxpayer money the first year a family enrolls, and the savings keep compounding over time, even after the mother graduates.
One of New York’s quietest disgraces is that we deny these programs to 95% of willing, eligible families. In doing so, we are planting the seeds for tomorrow’s drug crisis, tomorrow’s crime, and tomorrow’s lost human potential, tomorrow’s tax increases. In times of prosperity, it is essential to invest in children; in times of desperation, it is even more critical.
All parents, no matter what zip code or income bracket they live in, want the same thing for their children; they want them to have a better life than they have had. Parents whose lives have been marred by trauma and poverty want that desperately, but without help, are less likely to achieve it. Maternal Home Visiting programs are what these families, their children, and the rest of us are counting on.
All three of the big, evidence-based Maternal Home Visiting programs in the state, which all have different entrance criteria and can serve different types of families, need to grow and grow fast.
Maternal Home Visiting programs protect children from abuse and neglect, rebuild families shattered by generations of abuse, and save taxpayers money in their first year.
We support New York’s investment but must go further and provide funding for the other 95% of families.
Our children, our future, are counting on it.
Andrew was a Captain in the British Army before practicing integrated marketing communications and marketing, mostly for global brands. A survivor of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and suicide, Andrew dedicated the second half of his life to protecting children from trauma.