Helping first time moms in need: Nurse-Family Partnership


The Nurse-Family Partnership provides resources and guidance to low-income moms throughout the country. (iStock)

When Karlina Zambrano was about 13 weeks pregnant, she found a leaflet in her medicaid packet for a program called the Nurse-Family Partnership. The nationwide program would provide a nurse at no charge, who would come to her house weekly or bi-monthly throughout the first two years of her baby’s life. The visits would provide education and resources.

“I thought ‘Why not? It’s more information, more research,’” said Zambrano, now mom to 4-month-old Anthony, who she says is the “most adorable chunk of awesomeness ever.”

Zambrano soon met nurse Gloria Bugarin, who has worked for the Partnership through the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas since 2006.

The Partnership is provided to low income women pregnant with their first child. The goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes, child health and increase “economic self-sufficiency.”

“A lot of it, even though we’re all RNs, is social work,” Bugarin said. She sees many clients who are in abusive relationships and tries to help them find resources to be safe. Others need help finding work or transportation to jobs. And on top of that, they rely on Bugarin to help point them to good child care.

Together, Bugarin helped Zambrano, 27, work on getting her blood pressure down. After Anthony was born (healthy and to term), Bugarin helped her with breastfeeding, which Zambrano desperately wanted to do, but found difficult. And when Zambrano, who had a stack of library books about pregnancy on her table when Bugarin first met her, felt like she wasn’t doing enough “attachment parenting,” Bugarin gave her advice [any new mom could use.]ECHO “To calm me down, she said if you think about a day, you feed him often, you’re there when he cries, you change him. You do everything to make him happy. Each thing you do builds trust in you from him.”

Bugarin took this job after 14 years as an elementary school nurse. She saw a need for parenting programs and early interventions, thinking that could help the countless children she saw coming into school with behavioral problems and developmental delays.

She feels like there are success stories for sure.

In one instance recently, she had a mom who was in a violent relationship with the baby’s father. Bugarin provided her with resources and at at some point after, that mom decided it was time to leave. She’s now living with family and has a job watching her cousin’s 6-month-old so she can keep her baby with her during the day. “From our visits and her desire to have a better life for herself and her baby, she’s making better choices,” Bugarin said.

For Zambrano and her husband, the visits have been incredibly helpful as they don’t really have family nearby. “There was somebody there who would talk to me and answer my questions, who might not be in an extreme rush,” she said. “I can really just open up and speak to her.”

Bugarin will be at the organization’s annual Mother’s Day celebration later this week. Previous graduates will be there, and more than 300 have already RSVP’d, she said excitedly. She is also proud to say she has two clients graduating (which happens when their children turn two) soon. “It is exciting, but also a little sad because we develop a relationship,” she said. One is still continuing with her education and is in the 10th grade. The other is going to college to become a social worker.

“I’m hoping she’ll volunteer or apply to work” with us, Bugarin said.

It should be noted: If you buy a Boppy pillow at Babies R Us during the month of May, the Boppy Company will donate 5 percent of its proceeds in the form of pillows to the Nurse-Family Partnership. The company has donated nearly 10,000 pillows over the last five years. You can also donate directly here until May 11: www.DonateToNFP.org

You might also like: Volunteer at the Diaper Bank

Amy Joyce is the editor and a writer for On Parenting.
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