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Young Mums and Dads get help from Innovative Programme

6th January 2011

A new independent evaluation report, published today, shows good potential for the innovative Family Nurse Partnership programme to make a real difference to the life chances of some of the most disadvantaged families.

Family Nurse Partnerships help young mums and dads with intensive support through home visits from early pregnancy until a child is two years old. The programme complements and supports the work of health visitors, providing the “intensive care” end of prevention for families who need more help to care for their children and themselves.

Today’s report focuses on the ‘toddler’ phase of the programme when children are aged 12 - 24 months, and suggests that Family Nurse Partnerships can be successfully delivered across England - with the potential for substantial health and well being benefits for the children and families involved.

It builds on two earlier evaluation reports that pointed to positive potential impacts on breastfeeding and reduced smoking in pregnancy. In addition today’s report also found that:

  • mothers are very positive about their parenting capacity and report high levels of warm parenting;
  • mothers have significantly increased mastery, a form of self esteem, which is linked to increased confidence and higher aspirations for themselves and their children;
  • children develop in line with age group norms which is especially important among this group which is at high risk of poor development.

Family Nurse Partnerships are based on a successful evidence-based model in the US and have been tested in England since 2007. This evaluation focuses on the first 10 pilot sites and finds that the project can be successfully delivered in its entirety with good potential for positive outcomes for families as well as for substantial cost savings. The programme proved popular with both families and nurses, and resulted in improved links with and use of children’s centres by families as they moved through their toddler phase.

In October the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, announced his commitment to doubling the number of disadvantaged families benefiting from the Family Nurse Partnership programme - from just over 6,000 at any one time to 13,000 by 2015.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“These new findings show the potential for Family Nurse Partnerships to improve the life chances of our most disadvantaged families. Every child deserves the best start in life. Pregnancy and the first years of life have a long lasting impact on a child’s future health, relationships and happiness.

 “That’s why I announced in October that we would double the number of places for families to benefit from the programme by 2015. I expect more areas to start delivering Family Nurse Partnerships, as well as expansion in those areas already providing the service.

“The early intervention that this programme provides, can help young parents look after their children better and break inter-generational patterns of disadvantage. It can also improve the health and wellbeing of the whole family – with reduced smoking during pregnancy and young mums coping better with pregnancy, labour and parenthood and gaining greater confidence and self esteem.”

 

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