Pro­grams for new moms boost child’s de­vel­op­ment, study says

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Marissa Page

A new pa­per re­leased Mon­day iden­ti­fies health and ed­u­ca­tional ben­e­fits for chil­dren whose moth­ers par­tic­i­pated in a home visi­ta­tion pro­gram that pro­vides med­i­cal as­sis­tance and early child­hood de­vel­op­ment.

The Nurse-Fam­ily Part­ner­ship pro­gram be­gins in pre­na­tal stages and ends when the child turns 2. The pro­gram of­fers care to dis­ad­van­taged, first-time and sin­gle moth­ers. Reg­is­tered nurses visit the women’s homes and as­sist both with med­i­cal needs and early ed­u­ca­tion.

Uni­ver­sity of Chicago Pro­fes­sor James Heck­man, in tan­dem with four other pro­fes­sors and re­searchers at ma­jor Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties, an­a­lyzed a Nurse-Fam­ily Part­ner­ship pro­gram in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. The pa­per con­cludes, among other things, that Nurse-Fam­ily Part­ner­ship pro­grams im­prove cog­ni­tive skills for ba­bies of both gen­ders by age 6, and specif­i­cally so­cial and emo­tional skills for girls. At age 12, males whose moth­ers were in­volved in Nurse-Fam­ily Part­ner­ship pro­gram per­form bet­ter aca­dem­i­cally.

“It is very im­por­tant to pro­vide a strong start early in life,” said Maria Ros­ales-Rueda, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine and one of the pa­per’s au­thors. “We have seen sev­eral re­search chil­dren ar­rive to school al­ready with big gaps be­tween low so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus and high so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus. Pro­grams like Nurse-Fam­ily Part­ner­ship tar­get low in­come very dis­ad­van­taged fam­i­lies, first-time moth­ers, some­times teenagers, by help­ing them to in­vest in their chil­dren.”

Chalk­beat Colorado is a non­profit news or­ga­ni­za­tion cov­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion is­sues. For more, visit chalk­beat.org/co.

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