Nurse-Family Partnership

Just a note that Feb. 6th’s New Yorker was one of the top issues in many months, and the top of the top was Katherine Boo’s article on the Nurse-Family Partnership program in rural Louisiana. Unfortunately the article is not online, but they did post an interview, wherein she talks about the program and the article.

In fact, many young Louisiana mothers saw being in the program as status-enhancing—they loved to tell their friends, “I have my own private baby nurse.” This excitement tended to wear off, though, as the mothers realized that the nurses weren’t just coming to help them change diapers but to pressure them to quit smoking or return to high school or make other serious changes to improve the economic and emotional stability of their child.

It’s a social program that’s actually resulting in much progress and success, but at the same time it’s still wrought with individual setbacks and failures. But the program thrives by acknowledging its limitations and making constructive efforts to improve. The story is heartbreaking, and it is brilliant in portraying the lives of those profiled. I teared up when one of the young mothers asks the nurse if it’s possible for her to write a “get out of sex” note — along the lines of a “get out of gym class” note — because she’s still not healed from the birth and she knows her boyfriend is going to demand sex when he gets home. Same thing with the mention of the young mother who says that she really enjoys her janitorial job, and that her favorite part is handling the dirty dishes of the family and fantasizing about the meals that the family must spend together.

Put the article online, New Yorker!

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