How Charlotte seeks to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — According to a 2014 Harvard Research study, for someone born into poverty, the chances of getting out of poverty are lowest in Charlotte.

For years, city and community stakeholders have been working to find solutions to help break that cycle.

Among the programs with evidence-based results is Nurse-Family Partnership, or NFP, which pairs a registered nurse and first-time mothers for the first two and half years of their child’s life. The program is voluntary.

The goal is to empower first-time parents living with reduced resources to successfully change their lives and the lives of their children through evidence-based nurse home visitations.

​Nurses provide parents with guidance and support, but also access to resources such as housing assistance and food.

“When I first found out I was pregnant, it was more so, ‘Oh God’ this is really happening,” said mother Denise Ward.

The first-time mother learned about the partnership while receiving services through the Florence Crittenton Home, and sought help for herself and her then-unborn son, Emerald.

“I was so confused at what I was going to do because his father was not in the picture,” she said. “I was not prepared for anything at that time.”

Nurses involved in the partnership log approximately 60 home visits, addressing anything that may be considered an obstacle for the child and their family.

“Most of our moms have never had a library card and many of them were never read to when they were little,” said Dr. Donald Jonas who helps to facilitate NFP in Mecklenburg County. “Regardless of what situation a mom presents herself in, (this program has the) connections across the community that you can actually show 15 years after the intervention. The little one is more likely to stay in high school, to get into the workforce and not be incarcerated.”

Click here to learn more about Nurse-Family Partnership, or learn more about the Charlotte-based council addressing the city’s economic mobility here.

“From that start, from when they first came in, I have had support,” Ward said.

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