Home Visiting Promotes Child Development

Pregnancy is often a difficult time for women. Furthermore, women who lack the sufficient resources to take care of themselves and their growing children, face pregnancy with even greater stress. In response to differing means, the state of Tennessee, in partnership with the Federal government and several local agencies, has created a few programs to help expectant mothers and their growing children get what they need to foster proper early brain development and future academic success.

Nurse-Family Partnership

The Nurse Family Partnership provides home visits by registered nurses to first-time mothers, beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the child's second birthday (Promising Practices, 2009). The goals of the partnership are the following:

  • Improve pregnancy outcomes by helping women engage in preventive health practices, including obtaining thorough prenatal care from their healthcare providers, changing their diet, and reducing their use of cigarettes, alcohol and illegal substances.
  • Improve child health and development by helping parents provide responsible and competent care for their children; an
  • Improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents develop a vision for their own future, plan future pregnancies, continue their education and find work.

In Shelby County, the Nurse-Family Partnership program is facilitated by the Le Bonheur Community Outreach and is free to all women who meet eligibility requirements. In order to be eligible, clients must be first-time, low-income, pre-natal mothers who live in Shelby County. There is no age limit for expectant mothers, but clients must be enrolled by the 28th week of pregnancy. To learn more or sign up, please visit the Le Bonheur website.

Help Us Grow Successfully (HUGS)

The HUGS program was developed by the Tennessee Department of Health to improve birth outcomes. This program provides free home‐based prevention and intervention services to pregnant/postpartum women, children from birth to their 6th birthday and the parent/guardian. The program aims to improve maternal and child health, facilitate proper child development and enhance family strengths.

Families are assisted in accessing health care and other social and educational services. Education is provided regarding pregnancy, growth, development, and parenting, with special emphasis on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) counseling and ways to decrease the risk of SIDS.

If you are interested in the HUGS program, or would like to make a referral, please contact HUGS Supervisor Linda Busby at (901) 379-7461.

Every parent hopes that their baby will grow up to be the next President of the United States or scientist to find the cure for cancer, but not all parents are created equally.   Sometimes well-meaning parents are unable to give their child what he or she needs to develop appropriately. The Nurse Family Partnership and HUGS program work to meet families where they are and help educate parents on best practices for raising a healthy, successful child. For families with limited means, the government has created a few safeguards to void off the negative effects of poverty for expectant mothers and developing children.

  1. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. (2011). Nurse Family Partnership Program. Retrieved from: http://www.lebonheur.org/lebonheur/Our+Services/Community+Services/Center+for+Children+and+Parents/Nurse+Family+Partnership.
  2. Nurse Family Partnership. (2010). Nurse Family Partnership in Tennessee. Retrieved from: http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/assets/PDF/Communities/State-profiles/TN_State_Profile_2010.aspx.
  3. Promising Practices. (2009). Nurse Family Partnership. Retrieved from: http://www.promisingpractices.net/program.asp?programid=16.
  4. Shelby County Government. (2011). Help Us Grow Successfully (HUGS). Retrieved from: http://www.shelbycountytn.gov/index.aspx?NID=1064.
  5. Tennessee Department of Health: Maternal and Child Health. (2009). Tennessee Home Visiting Programs Annual Report. Retrieved from: http://health.state.tn.us/Downloads/Home%20Visiting%20Report%20FY%202009.FINAL.pdf.