It’s not easy being a mom for the first time, and some moms are working especially hard to provide their babies with a better childhood than what they experienced.
Aliah Arneson watched her parents struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism throughout her childhood and wanted her daughter to never experience the things she did growing up.
“She is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Aliah. “It will be different for my daughter. My daughter will be acknowledged and have a voice.”
When Aliah got pregnant, she decided to leave her life working in inner-city street ministry in New York and come back home to raise her daughter in Kenosha County. She then got connected to a Nurse-Family Partnership nurse through Kenosha County Division of Health, who helped to provide her with expert guidance on her baby’s health and development and become a confident mom. Nurse Sarah Milkie gained her trust, gave her a feeling of security and helped her to meet her goals to breastfeed, among others.
Her daughter just turned 3-years-old and enjoys writing her ABCs. Because of her hard work as a single working mom, Aliah no longer qualifies for public assistance and is providing a better life for her daughter.
“I want my daughter to not be afraid of education. I fell between the cracks without a mentor or someone there to tell me I could,” said Aliah. With the help of her nurse Sarah, she worked to improve her child’s early learning and brain development that will increase her success when she starts school.
Aliah and her home visitor Briana Knuuti will be traveling to Washington, D.C. along with their fellow Wisconsinites, home visitor Ann Brooks and parent advocate Melissa Rudack, on June 14 as a part of a Home Visiting Coalition-led parent advocacy program to share her experiences with legislators and to make the case for their continued support.
In Kenosha County, Nurse-Family Partnership nurses have served over 740 families in poverty. Our nurses work alongside families to build trust and strengthen them throughout the expectant mom’s pregnancy, up until her child’s second birthday.
Forty years of scientifically-proven research show that the program improves birth and child health outcomes, reduces child abuse, and improves school readiness and economic self-sufficiency. Not only do the children have brighter outcomes, but communities also prosper with substantial returns on investment. According to the RAND Corporation, every $1 invested in Nurse-Family Partnership returns up to $5.70 for the highest-risk families served.
Nurse-Family Partnership has long been supported through bipartisan backing for the federal home visiting program – the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which provides states like Wisconsin with funding to strengthen families in poverty with evidence-based home visiting programs like Nurse-Family Partnership.
This pro-family, federal program needs to be reauthorized this year to ensure that moms like Aliah are given the tools to stop cycles of drug abuse, become economically self-sufficient and provide better opportunities for their children.
We thank Speaker Paul Ryan for his past support of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, and encourage him to continue making this smart public investment to break cycles of poverty and strengthen families. Governor Scott Walker has also called to expand Nurse-Family Partnership in his state budget.
Our community should be proud of moms like Aliah that are working alongside their nurses to be the best moms they can be for their children! Better communities start with great moms!
Cynthia Johnson, RN, M.Ed.
Division of Health
Kenosha County, Wisconsin