Early Childhood Education Evaluation Forum

Chapter 22 - Nurse Family Partnership (Memphis)
Introduction to the Original Evaluation (Excerpt)

The Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) operated in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1990 to 1993. It was designed to "help low-income, first-time parents start their lives with their children on a sound course and prevent the health and parenting problems that can contribute to the early development of antisocial behavior." The program had three main objectives: (1) to improve women's health-related behaviors during pregnancy; (2) to aid parents in the attainment of parenting skills; and (3) to enhance the maternal life-course development of participating women by encouraging family planning, educational development, and self-sufficiency. The Memphis trial was undertaken to determine whether the positive findings of the Elmira trial (see chapter 18) could be replicated in a major urban area with a sample of primarily low-income black women.

David Olds, now professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Harriet Kitzman, associate professor of nursing at the University of Rochester, and their colleagues (the "NFP team") evaluated the Nurse Family Partnership program in Memphis. Olds earlier developed and evaluated the precursor program in Elmira, New York, which ran from 1978 to 1982. The NFP in Memphis was carefully evaluated using random assignment. For the children, positive results were concentrated among children with mothers with low psychological resources on cognitive and school readiness/performance measures through the age-twelve follow-up. Mothers in the program group initially were less likely to have subsequent pregnancies, to be married, to be living with the child's father, and less likely to receive government benefits. However, by the age-twelve follow-up, many of the differences had faded out. As with the Elmira evaluation, the only major concern is that the evaluation was conducted by the same group that designed the intervention and has yet to be independently evaluated.

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