SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) The county of Santa Cruz recognized mothers in a drive-through graduation ceremony, Wednesday for a new cohort of graduates from the Nurse-Family Partnership program.
The program is mostly focused on young single women as they navigate the new challenges of motherhood.
The nurses in the program help new mothers develop skills to take better care of themselves and their babies.
“Makes you more comfortable that you're doing things right, and in case anything happens, you're always going to have somebody with you,” mother and Nurse-Family Partnership graduate Linda Chavez said.
The mothers come from different walks of life, but are recommended or sign up for the program because they simply needed a support system.
“I was a first time Mom. I was a single mom. I didn't have housing,” Angie Redlich said.
Wednesday was a day of celebration that couldn’t be dampened by the rain. For the 36 families graduating the nurse-family partnership, it marks more than two years of a unique bond with a mother and a public health nurse. The same nurse has stayed by their side since before their toddlers were born.
“I linked up with someone that I just really clicked with and meshed with each other right away. Each phase, she was able to rise to the occasion of the needs of my family,” Redlich said.
From the time a mother's pregnant until their child's second Birthday, their nurse visits them regularly. The public health nurse helps them sign up for government programs, learn about being a mother and helps parents track their child's development.
“The nuances of infancy, and how do I do this? What's the right amount of formula or what's the right amount of feeding?" Redlich said.
“Just not feeling alone, knowing there was someone with me every day, and any time I could just check in with my nurse,” Chavez said.
The pandemic made things for challenging for the program. All meetings are done virtually now. At the start of the pandemic the nurses were assigned to the county communicable disease unit, and then in August helped with fire support.
“So we're really thrilled that our families hung in there with us and the nurses worked hard,” program supervisor Debbie Garner said.