The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program is free for first-time moms who financially qualify, providing regular home visits from specially trained nurses during pregnancy and through a child’s second birthday. Since its inception in 1999, over 26,000 women have enrolled in Colorado Nurse-Family Partnership, and nearly 4,000 women are served annually by 150 nurses in all of Colorado’s 64 counties. As we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of NFP in Colorado, we caught up with a previous program participant, Irene Avitia Perez, to hear about how Nurse-Family Partnership has impacted her life since she had her first daughter, Vanessa, twelve years ago at the age of 16. Irene and her family are a testament to the positive impact that Nurse-Family Partnership has on our local families and communities.
How did the support you received from Nurse-Family Partnership help you as a new mother?
Irene Avitia Perez: Being a first-time mother at the age of 16 years old has probably been one of the most challenging phases of my life. During my pregnancy I had so many concerns, and once my daughter Vanessa arrived my concerns were even bigger. My nurse from Nurse Family Partnership was there to provide support and help me overcome my fears of being a young first-time mother.
Looking back, how has participating in the program impacted your daughter’s life, and your family as a whole?
Irene Avitia Perez: All of the support and knowledge that I gained from the program was priceless. Our nurse helped my husband and I create a healthy routine for our daughter Vanessa, so I could make the most of my day since I was still in High School. We learned how to raise Vanessa feeling loved, cared for and safe while overcoming our challenges. It helped us become a solid and strong family and plan for the future. We waited 5 years to have our second daughter, Yariela, and all of the knowledge we had gained from the program helped us overcome the struggles that we encountered with our second daughter.
What impact did the program have on your own life and the path you’ve taken since finishing the program?
Irene Avitia Perez: Growing up I always wanted to be in the Education field. Being part of Nurse-Family Partnership encouraged me to follow my dreams and set an example for my daughters. I finished High School and got a job at Young Tracks preschool and childcare center where I had the opportunity to learn and grow in the Early Childhood Education Field. I currently work at Integrated Community as the Early Childhood Education Specialist helping Hispanic families navigate the education system and supporting them to understand the impact early interactions have on their child’s development. It is important as a family to always give back to our community so we love to volunteer and engage ourselves in community events. Last fall, Vanessa and Yariela put a free little library in our neighborhood to remove barriers that families might have in accessing books to share with their children.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Irene Avitia Perez: No matter what your circumstances are, having a baby for the first time comes with its challenges, now imagine putting other factors into play; low-income families, young mother, single mother, abusive parent in the household, etc. it makes it even harder or impossible for a first-time mother to bond with her baby, take care of herself and the baby. This is one of the many reasons why it is important for those mothers to have someone that they trust and feel safe with, supporting them in the most important role.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the Nurse-Family Partnership, please call 970-871-7686 or visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/nfp to find out more.