What is Family Connects®?
Family Connects® is a community-wide nurse home visiting program for parents of newborns residing in a given geographic area. It is based on the Durham Connects model piloted in Durham County, N.C. The free visits from a registered nurse are typically scheduled a few weeks after birth. Parents receive one to three home visits plus follow up. The mission is to support parents and act as a gateway to community resources.
Where is Family Connects®?
The Family Connects® home office is located at the Center for Child & Family Health, a non-profit child trauma prevention and treatment center located in Durham, N.C. The Center for Child & Family Health is also home to the Durham Connects pilot program.
How was the Family Connects® model developed?
Family Connects® was piloted as the Durham Connects program in 2008 in collaboration with the Center for Child & Family Health, Durham County Health Department, the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and the Durham County Division of Social Services. It was primarily funded by The Duke Endowment and Durham County Government. The program is continuing to expand nationwide.
How does Family Connects® fit into the community?
The primary goal of Family Connects® is to integrate with existing community services and complement that which is already being done. Family Connects® can reinforce local support systems for parents and offer another way to engage families at a critical juncture.
Who are typical partners in the program?
Partners may include local non profits, health departments, hospital systems, state-wide early childhood, education or health systems, physician groups and/or universities.
What kinds of community issues do nurses address in home visits?
Using an evidence-based protocol, Family Connects® nurses address all areas of child and family well-being during their home visit that can create challenges to family stability. Nurses regularly address maternal and infant health concerns, home safety issues, breastfeeding, depression and mental health needs, substance use, domestic violence and relationship issues, child care access, parenting education, family planning, financial concerns, social support and more.
What is unique about Family Connects?
Family Connects® is an evidence-based program that supports all families at the time of birth regardless of income, status or number of children. All families are treated equally and with respect. Nurses are trained to help parents determine their priorities and they can connect families to local community resources. This helps to make parenting a smoother process and serves as the community’s welcome committee for its newest residents.
Why is the program universal and community-wide? Shouldn’t we focus on high-needs families?
Universal reach reduces the feeling that there's a stigma attached to receiving services. All families with a newborn are vulnerable; targeting demographic risk does not address all families with vulnerabilities and needs. Data from the Durham Connects program shows that 94 percent of parents need support in at least one area after the birth of a new child. High-needs families needing longer term assistance can then be directed to the services that they need.
What is Family Connects®’ Cost-Benefit Ratio?
For each $1 in program costs, the Durham Connects program yielded $3.02 in savings in emergency health care costs. Based on the findings, researchers estimate that for cities of a similar size averaging about 3,187 births a year, an annual investment of $2.2 million in nurse home visiting would result in a community health care cost savings of about $7 million in the first two years of a child’s life.
How Does My Community Get Started?
The launch of a Family Connects® program takes about 12 to 15 months. During that time, Family Connects® staff will work with a community to make sure all the needed services are in place, along with providing training and protocols.
Is There a Fee?
Family Connects sites do have upfront costs for training and certification that vary by a community's size. There is also an annual fee for data collection and costs for ongoing certification.
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