Building Trust, Empowering Families

Posted on August 19, 2022

building trust, empowering families

Building Trust, Empowering Families

Bright Start

A nurse home visitation program, Bright Start provides care for at-risk families during pregnancy and after delivery. Nursing services include prenatal, maternal and infant/child health and development assessments and education; and parenting, health, safety and nutrition education. Services may continue until the child’s second birthday. Bright Start also helps link families with community resources, such as prenatal, postpartum and pediatric medical care; family planning services; and mental health services.

Even for folks born in the U.S., navigating complex systems as a young adult can be difficult.

For Santa and her husband BK, who came to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Bhutan, expecting twins was a blessing—and overwhelming. A friend referred Santa to Bright Start.

“Santa enrolled about three weeks before her twins were born,” says Nurse Supervisor Kathy Schneider. The couple lived with a relative and had no safe place prepared for the babies to sleep. Kathy helped Santa make an appointment with the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that helps meet a wide range of expectant parents’ needs.

“They had one car, so I gave her taxi vouchers to get to the hospital in case labor started while her husband was at work,” Kathy says. “I also told her about the free car seat installation provided at local fire stations and helped her sign up at Teddy Bear Den.”

“All of this took place at our first visit,” says Kathy.

Listening, Learning and Growing

In the Bright Start program, building a trusting relationship between the nurse and the family is essential for success.

Fortunately, Santa and Kathy bonded quickly. Although they’d only met a few weeks earlier, Santa invited Kathy to the hospital the day after she gave birth to her two beautiful baby girls, Emmi and Esmee.

“Kathy is kind, caring and loving,” Santa says. “She really helped and taught me everything—how to take care of a child.”

The sheer volume of information and referrals Kathy provided to the family demonstrates the important role that Bright Start played in their lives. It included:

  • Teaching Santa how to diaper, breastfeed and bathe the babies
  • Helping obtain reflux medicine for the babies, referring Santa to the Sanford Safety Center for a home safety walk-through
  • Providing education on tummy time, potty training, thumb-sucking and weaning from the bottle
  • Educating Santa on plagiocephaly and torticollis; when the pediatrician referred Emmi for a helmet for plagiocephaly, she helped Santa use it consistently
  • Referring Santa to the free dental clinic; the girls have gone once or twice each year
  • Accompanying Santa to the hospital when she took Esmee to get tubes in her ears
  • Assisting the family in planning a trip with the twins to Nepal
  • Educating the family on COVID when the pandemic hit
  • Encouraging Santa to read, sing or tell stories to the girls every day
  • Helping her get a library card and learn about free children’s activities at
    the library
  • Educating Santa on positive discipline, routines and understanding various behaviors
  • Helping the family find ways to pay medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Providing information on buying a home and helping the family find a moving truck
  • Connecting the family with in-home Early Head Start services

Santa’s time with Bright Start passed quickly. Today, Emmi and Esmee are healthy, smart and thriving; Santa is a confident and loving mother. The family recently moved into a beautiful home of their own.

When the family graduated from the program, Kathy brought stuffed bears, backpacks and cupcakes to celebrate their success. “We’re really going to miss her,” says Santa.