A city-run program aimed at helping and empowering young mothers is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
It's the end of a chapter for Joanne and Skyler Stallings. Two-and-a-half years ago, when the young couple found out they were pregnant with little Adrian, excitement was quickly clouded by worries.
"I was really, really scared and nervous, and not doing things the right way," Joanne Stallings says.
Joanne had left her mother behind the year before in Haiti, escaping the devastation of the earthquake and seeking medical attention. The couple's finances were also on shaky ground.
Skyler encouraged her to reach out for help to the free, city-run Nurse-Family Partnership program.
"Sandra, she was present during all the pregnancy," Joanne Stallings says. "She was giving me advice and she answered all my concerns, and she was always there for me."
Now, Joanne Stallings is one of 10,000 clients of NFP, which launched in 2003. Teenage and young adult women are enrolled in the program before their 28th week of pregnancy with their first child.
Program director Roberta Holder-Mosley says that they serve those who are struggling financially, with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes and childhood development, and laying the foundation for economic self-sufficiency.
"What the NFP Nurses do is, they work for the clients to help the clients identify their own heart's desire," Holder-Mosley says.
Joanne Stallings just completed a licensed practical nursing program and hopes to become a registered nurse. She's one of many success stories, as 66 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 19 got their GEDs, 91 percent of moms breast fed and 88 percent reported using contraception post-childbirth.
"We believe that it breaks the cycle of poverty, that it offers them the opportunity to have someone come and visit them who is going to show them that they actually have life options," Holder-Mosley says.
While NFP has its successes, it also has its struggles. Due to the 2008 financial crisis, there were funding cuts in 2010, downsizing the program. Now, they're fighting to maintain their existing services.
Before the cutbacks, they were serving 2,500 families at one time. Now, they reach about 1,850.
Holder-Mosley says that they're lobbying state and city officials for the $3.5 million needed to return to previous levels.
"If we expand the program, we're going to be able to get the same outcomes using the same program for many more women," she says.
For more information on the program, click here.