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Pierce County awarded nearly $146,000 for local home nurse-visiting program

July 10, 2012

TACOMA, WA - More than twenty-five families in Pierce County will now get the support they need to give their children a great start in life thanks to a recent round of awards from the state’s Home Visiting Services Account (HVSA), managed by Thrive by Five Washington.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department was one of 10 grantees statewide. This funding will help the Health Department continue its work with the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program for pregnant women and new infants that provides in-home visits to under-served families. Over the last five years this program has served 65 local families, helping reduce low birth weight and premature births and improving child growth and family stability.

“We are delighted to receive this grant award from Thrive by Five Washington,” said Director of Health, Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. “This funding allows us to continue to provide assistance to vulnerable first-time moms and their children guiding them to successful futures”.

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program is a voluntary service in which public health nurses meet with under-served families in their homes and offer information and support related to healthy child and family development. These visits begin by the 28th week of pregnancy and continue through the child’s second birthday. Evidence shows that when families receive this support, their children are healthier, are less likely to suffer from abuse or neglect and are better prepared for school. In fact, the entire family benefits.

“Home visiting works, and the Home Visiting Services Account is committed to helping make sure more eligible families - especially families in some of our state’s most at-risk communities - have access to it,” said Nina Auerbach, president and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington, the state’s public-private partnership for early learning that administers the account. “An early investment in families results in stronger families and, ultimately, stronger communities.”

The Health Department employs nine NFP program nurses that provide home visits to families throughout Pierce County. This grant will continue funding the services of a Spanish-speaking nurse to reach Hispanic families.

Since it was created by the Washington state Legislature in 2010, the HVSA has become a national model for leveraging public and private funds to support home visiting programs and has helped Washington invest 10 times more than it did in home visiting just two years ago. As of July 1, the HVSA has awarded nearly $4 million in grants to 31 evidence-based, research- based and promising home visiting programs serving about 1,000 families in 13 Washington counties. HVSA grantees represent a range of programs that meet the needs of populations across the state, including diverse geographic, racial/ethnic and other demographic groups. While most of the account’s funds support direct services to families, some funds also are used for training, quality implementation and evaluation to ensure programs get the outcomes they promise to deliver for children and families. The Washington state Department of Early Learning (DEL) oversees the account, and Thrive by Five Washington administers it.

Making home visiting available to at-risk families is a key strategy in Washington’s 10-year Early Learning Plan. Right now, only a small percentage of eligible families throughout the state receive evidence-based home visiting services.

Contact: MerriLynn Rice, RN, Nurse Supervisor, (253) 798-3539

About the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department's mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy and programs in order to protect public health.

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