GREENSBORO, N.C. — Ten years ago, Guilford Child Development launched a program that teamed nurses with low-income women who were expecting their first child.
The goal was to provide the support the women needed to give birth to and raise healthy babies.
The project, which has served 493 families, for many years was the only one of its kind in the state.
It also served as a model for the development of seven similar programs throughout the state that are part of the national Nurse-Family Partnership and funded by The Duke Endowment in Charlotte, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem and other funders.
The nurse-family effort in Guilford County is one five programs at Guilford Child Development, all of which focus on serving young children and families.
Founded in 1967 as United Day Care Services, the agency operates with an annual budget of roughly $17 million, employs over 300 people and runs 13 child-development centers throughout the county.
The agency provides resources and referral services for child care in the county and provides training and workshops for child-care providers, and in 2009 responded to over 42,000 calls from parents, providers and other community members, and served nearly 1,300 parents and over 1,900 children.
Its 10-year-old nurse-family partnership served 115 first-time mothers, helping to reduce their smoking by 18 percent and the violence they experienced by 57 percent.
The agency also prepares and delivers over 1,300 meals a day to 13 Head Start and Early Head Start centers and 10 other centers in Guilford and Randolph counties.
And it provides literacy, parenting and life skills to over 140 families at three community sites in partnership with Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro and High Point.
The agency, which just opened a new center for low-income children in a foreclosed building that had been ca hild-development center, thanks to $500,000 in federal stimulus funds, also counts on partnerships to advance is mission of helping young children and families “reach their full potential,” says Robin Britt, its executive director and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and former state secretary of health and human services.
Guilford Child Development, for example, partners with the School Readiness Collaborative, a group of seven local colleges and universities that focuses on preparing children to succeed in school.
Through that partnership, North Carolina A&T State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro College, Guilford Tech and other schools and organizations all work to help the agency’s staff improve the quality of the instruction and classroom experience they provide to children, says Trish Owens, the organization’s deputy director for organizational development.
Guilford Tech, which offers an associate degree in early childhood, also helped Guilford Child Development establish a “career path” for the teacher assistants in its Head Start program that they can use to transfer to four-year early-childhood degree program at A&T, Greensboro College and UNCG.
“The ultimate goal,” Britt says, “is for teachers to have a four-year degree in early childhood, and a birth-through-kindergarten license from the state Department of Public Instruction.”