Family Connects North Texas Expansion | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

United Way and Partners Expand In-home Nurse Visiting Program to Dallas

Family Connects North Texas brings postpartum nurse visits to parents of newborns delivered at two area hospitals

Family Connects North Texas, a regional collaborative model that has been nationally proven to improve maternal and infant health outcomes, is expanding in our community.

Family Connects brings postpartum in-home nurse visits free of charge to any parent of a newborn delivering at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. The evidence-based initiative—tailored to address the highest, most urgent needs of parents with newborns in the hospital and afterward at home—is also now available to parents of newborns at Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants at Texas Health Dallas.

Family Connects North Texas is a regional program through a partnership with Family Connects International, led by My Health My Resources of Tarrant County (MHMR), TexProtects, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and Metrocare Services. TexProtects and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas provide community outreach and alignment, as well as recruitment efforts, while MHMR and Metrocare provide the registered nurses and program oversight.

Focusing on Parent Wellbeing

Aiming to reach all families with a newborn, Family Connects creates system change at the population level, recognizing that the wellbeing of the parents plays a critical role in laying a positive foundation for their child’s development.

“Our Family Connects program sets the expectation for how a community should care for its families, regardless of personal circumstances,” said Virginia Rose, vice president and administrator of the Margot Perot Center at Texas Health Dallas. “Texas currently lacks a streamlined system of care and services to support mothers and infants postpartum, meaning families have to navigate multiple disconnected systems to access services. Research shows that the earlier we provide supports to families and children while making readily available resources more accessible, the less likely families are to experience unnecessary trauma resulting in child abuse or neglect down the road.”

Through the Family Connects program, registered nurses (staffed by Metrocare Services) visit families in their homes during the first few weeks after a birth, adoption or foster care placement of a newborn or after a pregnancy loss.

Before discharge, families of newborns first meet with a registered nurse to set up an in-home postpartum assessment to determine health and family support needs. The family is then offered up to three in-home follow-up visits to support both the parent and the child.

After in-home visits, nurses connect families to resources that help them adjust to life with a newborn and support a healthy family dynamic, whether it be connecting to quality childcare, providing access to medical care, addressing any developmental or behavioral concerns, or helping parents address their own mental health concerns.

“As a prior postpartum nurse, I know firsthand the joys and the uncertainties that come with having a new baby,” said Metrocare nurse manager Karen Caldwell. “Now, with Family Connects, I can support Dallas families in their homes during those first critical weeks. From breast feeding and nutrition to postpartum depression, having ample resources to ensure families have the healthiest start is crucial for long term maternal and infant wellbeing.”

A Proven Approach

Based on the Durham model, Family Connects is an evidence-based program rigorously evaluated with proven outcomes for improving maternal and child health outcomes that supports parents and caregivers by bringing health care providers, community resources and families together. Research reveals notable results for children and families, including:

  • 94% of families needed one or more links to resources or education
  • Mothers were 28% less likely to experience anxiety symptoms
  • 50% fewer emergency room visits and hospital overnight stays in the first year of life
  • More mother-reported positive parenting behaviors, strengthened home environments and improved child safety
  • Higher likelihood of mothers completing their six-week postpartum health checkups
  • Increase in families using higher-quality childcare

“Simply being able to talk to someone about how I am feeling, how my baby is feeling has helped a lot,” said Ms. Ihssan Tahir, mother of a two-week-old and a 3-year-old. “I am a second time mom, but no kid is the same. There are different challenges and different things you may need help with.”

Currently, the program is available across the North Texas region, including portions of Dallas County. United Way and our partners hope to secure continued support to scale the program across the entire county.

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At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we create, lead and invest in programs that promote healthy child development. You can be part of this important work by supporting Family Connects North Texas and ensuring all new parents have the resources they need. To donate money or resources, get involved or learn more, visit Family Connects North Texas’ website.

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This article was published on: Apr 19, 2022