Health & Hospice
Published on June 6th, 20180
Pa. Auditor General Report Praises St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale lauded St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) as an example of an innovative program that will help repair the state’s broken child-welfare system and do more to protect its children.
DePasquale’s praise for St. Luke’s NFP came this month as he released his report offering his recommendations to fix this key state-wide system. The “State of the Child Action Plan” is based on research findings and information DePasquale collected during a “listening tour” he conducted last year.
As part of his tour, DePasquale visited St. Luke’s NFP – a local chapter of the national non-profit – last October and learned how the innovative program helps prevent child abuse and build healthy families.
The program connects mothers in Lehigh and Northampton counties living in poverty to a personal nurse, beginning in early pregnancy and continuing over the two years of the child’s life to assess and aid in quality of life issues. Through St. Luke’s NFP, nurses conduct home visits, provide critical education on health, parenting, child development and setting life goals, and connection to community and health resources.
“What I learned today is that there is hope,” DePasquale said after his visit. “While the child-welfare system is reactive to abuse and neglect, the Nurse-Family Partnership is proactive in preventing maltreatment from ever occurring.
“This program model is heavily research based, and has been proven to help break the cycle of poverty and child abuse. I wholeheartedly agree with something the nurses in the program say: ‘It’s easier to build a healthy child than to fix a broken adult.'”
In his action plan released on May 16, DePasquale points to the NFP model’s “impressive statistics,” including a 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect. He also highlights the program’s money-saving outcomes, noting that “every $1 invested in NFP in Pennsylvania yields $6.70 in return to society and $3.10 savings to state and federal governments.”
DePasquale recommends that the Pennsylvania General Assembly increase funding to “provide adequate resources for proven preventive and diversionary programs that help strengthen families and prevent children from formally entering the [Children and Youth Services] and juvenile justice systems.”
He notes that NFP has not received an increase in its $11.9 million annual line item in a decade. St. Luke’s NFP relies on public support to positively impact quality of life issues for impoverished mothers and their new children.
St. Luke’s NFP is currently serving over its budgeted capacity of 250 families. This results in a waitlist of pregnant mothers who want to participate in this life-changing opportunity, and mothers and children going unserved because there is not available funding to expand the program’s current capacity.
Since its formation in 2001, St. Luke’s Nurse-Family Partnership has enrolled more than 2,500 mothers and graduated over 800 families from the program.