GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Becca Holding knew she needed a fresh start when moving to Adams County.
The Gettysburg resident was battling an addiction and domestic violence with a previous partner in Texas before the move.
She picked up her life and started over in Fairfield, she said, adding that she got pregnant here in Adams County and did not know what resources were available to her at the time.
A flyer at the doctor’s office changed her life. It was for the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), an evidence-based community health program under Family First Health.
After successfully graduating from the program, Holding said her past self would be most proud of her sobriety and stability.
“I am not by any means perfect, but I have the life I never thought I could,” she said. “I have a family I love and a fulfilling career.”
Joining the program when she was six weeks pregnant with her daughter, Abigail, Holding did not know what to expect.
“It taught me a lot,” she said. “It helped me grow as a mother. It helped me find answers and feel confident in myself and my parenting abilities.”
As a first-time mother, Holding said she had a lot of questions.
“It’s scary. It was really nice having a nurse to help ease my anxiety and come up with solutions, even if not baby-related,” Holding said.
Holding said Chelsea Boyde, the lead nurse home visitor in Adams County, supported her in reaching milestone goals like obtaining her own apartment and getting a job.
While the NFP expanded into Adams County four years ago, it had only gotten started one year prior to the pandemic, Boyde said.
Facing staff turnover in healthcare after relationships were built, the program was put on the backburner during the pandemic, according to Boyde.
Through the grant and federally funded program, nurses provide mentorship, assessment, and education prenatally and through the child’s second birthday in the people’s homes at no cost, Boyde said, adding that the program serves high-risk and low-income first-time mothers.
NFP currently has funding to serve 50 families in Adams County this year with some spots already filled, according to Boyde.
“We are working toward the growth to fill those,” Boyde said. “We can then apply for more funding and expand, which is what we hope to do.”
Boyde said she has seen the need in Adams County for a program like this.
“We work really hard to empower women and follow what they already innately know,” said Boyde.
To be eligible for the program, individuals must meet the low-income criteria, be a first-time mother, be their first-time parenting, and be enrolled by the 28th week of pregnancy, according to Boyde.
Challenges facing first-time mothers include homelessness, substance abuse, difficulty in gaining access to community resources, educational and intellectual barriers, and lack of support, Boyde said.
“The biggest problem is finding affordable housing for people in Adams and York counties,” said Lisa Lathrop, the program manager for both counties.
Before becoming a program manager, Lathrop’s dream job in nursing school was to work in the field, like Boyde.
“I fully believe in this job,” said Lathrop, who faced financial hardship when her husband was self-employed. “As a first-time mom, I know the stigmas because I lived within that.”
Through education, Lathrop said she was able to pull herself out.
“A lot of these women have such big goals to further their education and move forward with their lives,” Boyde said. “They just need that mentorship.”
The National Service Office (NSO) recorded the median age for Pennsylvania moms is 23 years old at the time of intake. The organization also noted 80% are unmarried at intake and 74% are enrolled in Medicaid in Pennsylvania.
Additionally, the annual median household income in Pennsylvania at intake is between $6,000 and $9,000, according to NSO.
Boyde said NFP is part of the newly-formed Adams County Maternal Child Advisory Board, which partners with agencies helping families with children under 5 years old.
The virtual meetings have brought together 40 people each month to collaborate with one another, Boyde said.
“It shows the huge need for maternal support in Adams County,” Boyde said. “I know the need is out there. I hear it every single day.”
Those interested in more information about the program can visit the website at www.nursefamilypartnership.org/nfp-moms.
Additional ways to reach NFP include calling 717-843-6330, texting 717-916-4099, or emailing email@example.com.