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Nearly three years ago, 24-year-old Danielle White feared for her life and the lives of her unborn twins.
Her boyfriend was physically abusive and addicted to methamphetamine and opioids.
“I thought he was going to kill me,” said White. “I lived in fear every day.”
White sought help from assistance programs in the community, including the philanthropy-funded Indiana University Health Nurse Family Partnerships Program.
“This program saved my life,” said White. “It was and is my safe haven.”
Launched in 2018, Nurse Family Partnerships pairs first-time, low-income moms with IU Health nurses who provide educational resources and support throughout the entirety of the pregnancy and until the child turns two years of age.
“The program has three main priorities — mom's health, baby's health and economic self-sufficiency of our clients,” said program director Amy Meek, MSN, RN. “And that last one is the big one. Economic self- sufficiency means jobs, careers, stable housing, mental healthcare, substance use care and more.” And in the case of Danielle White, that meant help with escaping her abuser.
Once the expectant mother is paired with her nurse, the two meet biweekly so that the nurse can check on mom and baby’s health. And although these meetings involve discussions around nutrition, growth and development, many of their conversations focus on social health — anything from mom’s support system and understanding who is in her household, to budgeting her income and finding employment and career opportunities for her. The nurse can even help mom secure basic needs for her baby, such as diapers and formula, if she cannot afford them.
“It's very relational,” said Meek. “The clients tend to be very good friends with their nurse by the time it's over.”
When White was pregnant with twins, Nurse Family Partnerships paired her with IU Health nurse Kim Cramer, RN. The two had to be strategic about when and where they met, because White’s boyfriend did not want her speaking to Cramer by herself.
“He would always be at the house when Kim came,” said White. “We would try to go on walks by ourselves so that we could talk about how I was going to get out of this situation.”
Four months after her sons Ryder and Reece were born, Cramer helped White escape her boyfriend’s abuse. During that tumultuous time, Cramer was White’s port in the storm, helping her not only purchase a new breast pump, find formula, buy diapers and secure books for her children, but providing her with the security she so desperately needed.
“Danielle is wise and motivated for the sake of her twins,” said Cramer. “I’ve affirmed her strengths, determination and resiliency throughout this program."
With Cramer’s guidance, White has secured a full-time job and insurance and is living with her mother while she saves for a down payment for a new home. Both she and her sons are healthy, and White’s mental health is improving every day. The trauma she suffered from her boyfriend’s abuse affected her ability to socialize or function in public — but now, she’s able to manage a normal routine.
“I can even take my kids to the park without having to look over my shoulders,” White said.
She credits her success to the Nurse Family Partnerships Program, but more specifically to Cramer.
“Without her support, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” White reflected. “My children are safe, and I’m thriving, all thanks to Kim.”
If you’d like to learn how you can support community initiatives like the Nurse Family Partnerships Program, contact IU Health Foundation Senior Development Officer Emily Trinkle at 812.345.5625.