CORONA — As a first time mom, Andreyna Jimenez was filled with questions and concerns when her baby daughter was diagnosed with a single umbilical artery at 18 weeks.
While she had her mom and other relatives to ask for support, she knew she needed some professional medical feedback — which is why she jumped at the chance to sign up for a free program called the Nurse-Family Partnership, which operates from a second-floor office in Corona Plaza.
NYC NFP opened its Corona branch in 2007 and is operated by Public Health Solutions (PHS), a nonprofit public health organization. It offers one-on-one support for moms with nurses who help them from the first trimester until the child's 2nd birthday.
In New York City, the nationwide program operates citywide under the Department of Health, working on referrals from hospitals and doctors and, at Corona Plaza, an on-site WIC program also run by PHS. Moms enter the program on a rolling basis, officials said, with more than one thousand moms enrolled across the city each year.
Nurses offer tips on breastfeeding, how to deal with colic, developmental activities and more. The support has been crucial for Jimenez and her daughter, Valentina Excorsia, she said.
Andreyna reads a certificate with her daughter at NFP's graduation. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
Nurses give mothers education as well as follow-up questions, including take-home worksheets to monitor their progress with their child.
"The activities, the play days, the practice sheets — this has been a big support," the 28-year-old mom said at the program's recent graduation, where more than two dozen kids — ranging from 2 to 2 1/2 years old — donned superhero capes.
"I want to thank you for letting us into your homes, and allowing us to get to know you and your precious children," director Marci Rosa said at the start of the ceremony, which included personal reflections on each of the families from their nurses.
Since it launched in Corona in 2007, more than 1,000 families entered the program, she said.
The program boasts an impressive array of success metrics. Of the teen mothers in the program, 46 percent went on to earn their high school diploma or GED — compared to 39 percent of public school students who gave birth at a similar age, data shows.
Ninety-five percent of infants in the program were up to date with their child's immunizations, compared to 70 percent across the city.
Kids whose parents joined the program also stay in school longer, and have better attendance rates, according to data.
And 61 percent of moms who were unemployed at the start of the program had full or part-time jobs by their child's second birthday.
From the mom's start at NFP, they outline their "heart's desire," or what they'd like to accomplish, whether it's getting a better job or finishing school, program officials said.
As a testament to the nurse's significance on the new moms, many of the mothers who joined the program later decide to go into nursing, an official said.
Jimenez, who began working as a dental assistant while part of the NFP program, she'll miss the visits from her nurse, Ella, and the weekly worksheets to track her daughter's progress.
With the help of the program, her daughter doesn't have any side effects from the single umbilical artery at birth, and will start preschool soon.
But now, "my main goal is for [Valentina] to be happy, for her to go to school, get a career in whatever she wants to do as long it makes her happy," she said.