Thirty-seven healthy, happy two-year-olds donned caps and gowns and walked down the aisle with their families on Saturday, marking a milestone for the Florida MIECHV initiative. The children and their mothers are the first graduates of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Nurse Family Partnership, an evidence-based home-visiting program that helps ensure first-time mothers have the education and resources to have a healthy baby. They were among the first enrollees in the new program, an original MIECHV-funded site.
The families celebrated their completion of the NFP program which pairs first-time mothers living in low-income communities with specially-trained nurses. NFP is one of three evidence-based models currently being implemented in 11 Florida sites with federal MIECHV support. Mothers enroll in the program early in pregnancy and receive guidance and support for the first two years of their child’s life.
The families were each introduced by their nurse home visitor as they walked across the stage at the UF Health Science Center and received a special certificate. The two-year olds got a special yellow duck sporting a cap and diploma. Family members posed for photos and enjoyed cake and punch following the ceremony. Early Head Start staff was also on hand to provide information to parents about additional educational opportunities for their children.
The Jacksonville NFP program is administered by the Healthy Start Coalition with home visiting services provided by UF Health-Shands and the Department of Health-Duval County. Services are provided to 100 mothers in the New Town Success Zone and two other neighborhoods. Program services were also featured on the WJXT-TV Morning Show prior to the graduation ceremony.