PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A program to help lower health care costs and raise parents’ confidence is helping families adjust to life with newborn babies.
The program offers baby and family checkups at home in those first few difficult months after a baby is born.
They’re beginning to emerge around the country, where registered nurses visit homes as part of the Family Connects program.
Nurse Jenny Jensen checked on 5-month-old Cora, tracking pounds and inches, along with the parents’ stress levels.
Before they leave the hospital, new parents like Zawadi and Damon Walker are offered two free home checkups.
“I think we both had the same fear about being left to our own devices with this whole new life,” new dad Damon said.
In addition to helping with organizing feeding and sleeping schedules, the nurses also look at safety conditions in the home.
“We’re able to provide evidence-based information for families,” Jensen said.
And the nurses help parents find daycare, government benefits, even the safest car seat for their baby.
Research shows the program is paying off.
For every dollar spent, it’s estimated $3 in health care costs are saved. Emergency visits among Family Connects babies were cut in half.
“In the long run, we found important outcomes, such as lower child abuse rates and lower health care costs for emergency room visits for injuries and illnesses,” said Dr. Kenneth Dodge of Duke University’s Center for Child And Family Policy.
The program’s impact is being felt nationwide. Sixteen communities have sent nurses to be trained and 14 more sites are being added soon.