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Local program to reduce infant mortality rate running out of money, may shut down

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- A program that aims to reduce the infant mortality rate, giving resources to at-risk low-income mothers, is at risk of shutting down due to funding.

Nurse-Family Partnership began helping mothers in 2012 thanks to a grant from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Nurse-Family Partnership Supervisor Christine Wanous said that technically the money runs out in June but left over budget money allows for continued assistance to the community through the end of 2017.

“Now this five years is coming to a close so the community is looking at how this is going to sustain. So we're talking to local officials, we're talking officials on the state and national level,” Wanous said. “We almost always have a waiting list because there's a lot of moms who want to get into this program."

The program is meant to assist new mothers to ensure their child lives a healthy infancy. The three main goals during at home nurse visits are to inform them with pregnancy care for a healthy birth, child development once the child in born and encourage self-sufficiency of the mother with a career and education plan.

“It's very comprehensive, we look at the whole life of the family, the moms, and trying to help her succeed in life as a new parent,” Wanous said.

The program is two and a half years following the mother and child’s progress through the second birthday.

Graduate Beatriz Torrez said the program was vital to her 3-year-old son Matthew’s health and the relationship with her nurse encouraged her to enroll in school and earn bachelor’s degree.

“It’s very important because it’s not usually what you would get at a doctor’s visit,” Torrez said.

She’s expecting again and plans to help the migrant community in the public health field.

According to statistics from NC Health & Human Services, Forsyth County’s infant mortality is 7.3 and in 2014 was 6.4. Though there was a slight increase, data proved a decrease in disparity between African-American and white infant deaths.

A representative from the national headquarters of Nurse-Family Partnership in Colorado sent this statement about the status of the program internationally and within our state.

“Over 40 years of evidence show that Nurse-Family Partnership has been successful at improving health outcomes for first-time moms and their babies in poverty. The national Nurse-Family Partnership program currently serves families in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and six Tribal communities. Since 2000, North Carolina has served families in 25 counties with the support of both public and private funders. Nurse-Family Partnership has been successful at giving babies born into poverty a healthier start in Forsyth County and we are working to bring this life-changing program to more expectant moms throughout the state.”​