TUCSON, Ariz. — Christina Tellez loves her 9-month-old twin boys. When she found out she was pregnant she also discovered the Nurse Family Partnership program. The state-funded national program is designed to help new moms navigate pregnancy and parenthood. Christina was also working from home and caring for her babies at the same time while enrolled the program.
"They really helped me understand the pregnancy part of it and the post-pregnancy part of it. What to look for what are the signs of postpartum depression what to look for in your babies,” Tellez said.
Nurse Dawn Kasarda with Casa de los Ninos is part of that process. She’s been guiding Christina through the state funded program by giving her information about everything from childcare options, access to a diaper bank and more.
"We provide support we do education lactation support we do coaching,” Kasarda said.
Three teams of nurses from Casa de los Ninos, The Easterseals Blake Foundation and the Pima County Health Department meet with parents to give them advice and resources to make the pregnancy and parenting process easier. Nurses also check-in with parents to make sure their babies are hitting their milestones. The nurses answer questions to help ease the stress of parenting.
"It’s really helpful to have Dawn on my phone and say hey I have a question help me out is this right is this normal do I need to take them to the doctor, what type of medicine is good for them,” Tellez said.
In the complicated new world of COVID –19 - nurses are communicating by phone and dropping off supplies when needed. Moms also have new ways to connect.
"It used to be that we set up mom meetups to help moms connect. If you are quarantining in place how are you supposed to find moms are going through what you’re going through,”
“We talk about our experiences. It's very informal. It’s like going out for a cup of coffee,” Tellez said.
Right now there are 330 families enrolled in the free program in Pima County and enrollment is open. However, you do have to meet certain income requirements to get in.
“They do have to meet a 200% of poverty level or less,” Kasarda said.
Once parents finish the 2-year program, they get a certificate of completion.
This year they held a drive-through event instead of in-person ceremony because of COVID-19.
"I want you to feel connected know what’s in your community,” Kasarda said.