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CT expands free home health care program for first-time parents

Governor Ned Lamont with Bianca Charles and baby Juneau, as well as Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Dr. Deidre Gifford (Left) and Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye (Right).
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
Governor Ned Lamont with Bianca Charles and baby Juneau, as well as Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Dr. Deidre Gifford (Left) and Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye (Right).

A Connecticut program that helps new parents transition to life with a newborn is expanding. The Family Bridge program has already helped hundreds families in the greater Bridgeport area — soon, it will be offered in Norwich, too.

The Family Bridge program launched in October of 2023. It offers new parents three free visits from a registered nurse, who can give exams to babies and mothers, and teach parents about bathing, feeding, sleeping and safety.

Parents can also receive visits from a community health worker, who can help them get primary care physicians, diapers, formula and more.

More than 460 visits have been made so far.

Gov. Ned Lamont, who announced he will be a grandfather soon, said it’s proof Connecticut is “rolling out the red carpet” for babies.

“Connecticut, I always say, is the most family-friendly state in the country,” Lamont said. “And it starts by giving every single kid the very best opportunity in life, which starts right at birth, making sure that moms know that they have the support they have; we love them, we care for them.”

Bianca Charles recently gave birth to her third son, Juneau. She said the program made her feel seen, especially amid the Black maternal health crisis — Black women are three times as likelyto die from pregnancy complications than white women.

“When [the nurse] came to the home, she had equipment for myself, for the baby, I mean, lots of it. Everything that I needed, that the baby did, it was there,” Charles said. “I'm not sure how she handled it. And those are the tangibles. The intangibles that she brought along was the care, the concern, the listening ear, the gentleness, the time that she took to sit down in my home.”

Bianca Charles recently gave birth to her third son, Juneau. She said the program helped her and her son adjust after they left the hospital.
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
Bianca Charles recently gave birth to her third son, Juneau. She said the program helped her and her son adjust after they left the hospital.

During its pilot phase, the program was offered to families that gave birth at Bridgeport or St. Vincent’s Hospital and live in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Milford, Monroe, Shelton, Stratford, or Trumbull.

On May 31, it will be available for babies born at St. Vincent’s, and later this year, it will expand to Norwich.

The program is funded by $3 million from the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Treasury and preschool development grants.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.