Cover Stories

Focus on Families: Nurses for Newborns

Whether you’re a first time parent or already have children, a new baby is a major change. The upheaval is amplified for families dealing with a lack of emotional, medical and financial support. For more than 30 years, Nurses for Newborns (NFN) has worked to meet the needs of local families who are welcoming a new baby. The nonprofit provides in-home nurse visits, health care assistance, education and connections to resources. Expectant mothers can begin receiving services during pregnancy, and NFN professionals will continue working with families after the baby’s arrival.

A major component of NFN’s work is preventative. “It’s at the core of our mission,” CEO Melinda Monroe says. “We want families to feel empowered even when we aren’t working with them directly. That means getting ahead of issues before they become problems. If a family knows how to soothe a crying baby, recognizes the signs of illness and understands the importance of proper nutrition, they have the tools to deal with a crisis before it happens.” The nonprofit also screens parents for signs of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, and it recently took the lead on a new, 16-organization project centered around safe sleep to prevent accidents and death.

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on just how critical preventative services are to NFN’s clients. “There are so many more stressors for all of us,” Monroe notes. “We are seeing that the needs of our families are growing in complexity. Along with worrying about physical health, they must contend with employment concerns, housing and food insecurity, and social isolation.” The organization is dedicated to ensuring the needs of a baby are not lost in the shuffle.

To keep serving families, NFN has pivoted its programs. To keep clients and staff safe, some in-home visits have transitioned to virtual consultations, with in-person meetings prioritized for emergency situations. The nonprofit also strengthened partnerships with organizations like St. Louis Area Diaper Bank and St. Louis Area Foodbank to provide baby supplies, food and other resources. In addition, it also accepts community donations of items to help meet families’ needs. “Our response has been ever evolving, but our continued focus has been ensuring the families referred to us get what they need,” Monroe says. “Whether it’s virtually or in-person, we are here to offer support during the ups and downs of their lives and ensure their baby’s health remains a priority.”

To make its programs possible, NFN hosts its annual Night for Newborns gala, which is presented by the Steward Family Foundation. Now in its 24th year, the event will be March 12. To ensure the safety of guests, the gala will have a hybrid format. A limited, 20-table event will be held at The Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries. Those who are unable to attend in person will have the opportunity to join in the evening’s program virtually. “We count on the funds raised at the gala,” Monroe notes. “They ensure we can serve as many babies as possible, hire top quality staff and accomplish our mission.”

Nurses for Newborns schedules nurse and community health worker consultations, now offered virtually, to offer families a safety net to prevent infant mortality, child abuse and neglect. Its annual A Night For Newborns fundraising event will be held March 12. Pictured on the cover: Fran Barbieri, Genie Mueller, Linda Dougherty. For more information, call 314.544.3433 or visit nursesfornewborns.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: Nurses for Newborns Provides families important resources.
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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