Family Connects Model

Family Connects is an evidence-based model designed to support whole-person, integrated health for all families of newborns at a moment of life-changing transition. Family Connects nurses are trained to carefully assess newborns and mothers, screen for opportunities and concerns, and help families determine next steps, including when to seek immediate medical care. Family Connects nurses also keep the whole family in mind, recommending appropriate mental health services or medical care for other family members as needed – and they follow up to make sure families’ needs are met.

The Family Connects Model was established in 2008 through a partnership with the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, the Center for Child & Family Health, and the Durham County Health Department. The Model is in various stages of exploring, planning, implementation, and certification in communities across 18 states.

How it works

Family Connects International works with communities to plan for the model’s implementation and sustainability. We help establish community networks, and train the nurses who will conduct the home visits.

Participation in local Family Connects programming is voluntary for families with newborns as well as members of community advisory boards that help to maximize connections within the community care system. Newborns’ primary caregivers, including foster, adoptive, and bereaved parents, are offered a Family Connects visit shortly after the baby’s birth. Often this invitation is extended in the hospital. But families of newborns learn of the program via other channels as well, such as pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and community agencies.

FCI-trained nurses visit the homes of the newborns in their communities, providing health checks for both the infant and the birth mother. The nurse documents the visit — including the physical assessments and community referrals — and relays the appropriate information to the family’s health-care providers.

In some cases, the nurse recommends longer-term programs, such as Healthy Families America, Early Head Start, and others. This makes Family Connects an excellent gateway to more community care services.