Studies Demonstrate Positive Impact of MFHS Programs

Two MFHS programs were the subject of recent high profile studies demonstrating positive impacts on maternal and child health.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2019 found that WIC participation is associated with lower preterm birth and infant mortality.  Specifically, the study found that babies born to WIC participants are 33% less likely to die the first year of life.

This study validates that WIC is an effective intervention to improve birth outcomes and ensure the healthy growth and development of children.

In response to the study, the National WIC Association noted that the infant mortality rate in the US is nearly twice as high as rates in other developed countries. It is imperative that we elevate and strengthen proven and effective interventions that help babies and young children thrive. WIC is the gold standard in that effort.  However, not every eligible family is connected to WIC services.  The authors of the study stated that “promoting WIC enrollment through public health campaigns and increasing federal funding for the program could raise the number of expectant mothers with low income or at risk for poor nutrition receiving the benefits throughout pregnancy.”

A study on the long-term positive impact of the Nurse-Family Partnership program made headlines in November 2019.  Pediatrics published an 18-year follow-up of moms and children in Nurse-Family Partnership’s Memphis trial. The follow-up study found that Nurse-Family Partnership significantly improved the cognitive functioning and academic performance of 18-year old children born to high-risk mothers with limited psychological resources to cope with poverty.  Babies born into the NFP during the Memphis trial are now teenagers, and the study showed that they had improved cognitive outcomes compared to youth in the control group.  Mothers, with an NFP Nurse, had improved economic self-sufficiency. At the 18-year follow-up, they have greater confidence in their ability to manage life challenges, were significantly more likely to be married and had spouses who were employed 14 months longer than those in the control group. These nurse home visits had a profound effect in laying the foundation for moms to build stronger families.

An additional Pediatrics study, over the same 18-year period, found that Nurse-Family Partnership saved government $17,310 per family in public benefit costs, resulting in a net savings of $4,732 in government costs in 2009 dollars.

In addition, Harvard University research on the impact of poverty and toxic stress during pregnancy took note of the positive impact of the Nurse-Family Partnership and other interventions that begin during pregnancy.

The stresses of poverty essentially handicap a baby for life literally before birth, according to a massive and growing body of research from over the past decade, causing the brain to react in ways that lead to riskier behavior — and to a higher likelihood of bad health, poor grades, lower earnings and prison time.  Jack Shonkoff, a Harvard University professor of pediatrics and director of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, said, “People living in poverty are at much greater risk to experience toxic stress, because the causes of stress in their daily lives don’t go away easily — the stress of having a roof over your head, the stress of food, the stress of having bills to pay, the stress of not being able to get out of that hole,”

A burgeoning field of research shows that the imprint of poverty and its toxic stressors can actually be reversed — just by making some radical shifts in prenatal care for poor moms, through programs that provide consistent, empathic one-on-one coaching with the mother while she is pregnant, and continuing through early childhood.  “The right kinds of supports during pregnancy are ultimately the earliest intervention for … increasing the likelihood that that next generation will do better,” Shonkoff says.

Letter to the Editor: Study Reaffirms Success of the Nurse-Family Partnership Program 

The following letter was published in the Citizen’s Voice on January 1, 2020.

A report recently published in Pediatrics, a leading peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, released the findings of an 18-year follow-up of participants in a randomized, clinical trial of Nurse- Family Partnership (NFP). The study found that NFP significantly improved the cognitive functioning and academic performance of 18-year-old youth born to high-risk mothers with limited psychological resources to cope with poverty. For those unfamiliar with this very important and impactful program, NFP changes the future for the most vulnerable babies born into poverty by giving a first-time mom trusted support from her own personal nurse. 

At Maternal & Family Health Services, which provides the NFP program in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties, we couldn’t be more pleased with the study’s results, although I can genuinely relate that I’m not surprised. For nearly 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand many positive outcomes often shared by our team of dedicated, specially- trained, compassionate nurses—who begin home visiting six months prior to delivery and for the following two years after the child is born. 

Those familiar with this evidence-based program (which, by the way, enjoys bi-partisan political support–a rarity in today’s partisan environment) know that nurse home visits during pregnancy and the mother’s first two years of parenting have a profound impact in laying the foundation for moms to reduce the impact of poverty and build stronger families. Perhaps Frank Daidone, national president and CEO of NFP, summed it up best when the report was released. “There’s no better public investment than investing in and building stronger families,” he said. “Not only does the government save money, but youth and families prosper and communities thrive.” 

We know for a fact that mothers who have an NFP nurse have improved economic self-sufficiency and the study bears that out: those moms have greater confidence in their ability to manage life’s challenges and are significantly more likely to be married. The outcomes for youth, more specifically, were improved math achievement, working memory and ability to read others’ emotions. What’s more, the study reveals that the youth visited by NFP nurses were three times more likely to graduate from high school with honors!  

The study also revealed a critical outcome that is often overlooked: NFP saved the government in reduced public benefits over an 18-year period, including $17,310 per family in reduced public benefits that resulted in a net savings of $4,732 in 2009 dollars, which represents a nine percent reduction in public benefit per family. The high savings mirror what MFHS has seen: reduced costs in the areas of Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and welfare cash assistance. Our experience with the program demonstrates that these reduced governmental costs are explained in part by nurse-visited mothers doing better in planning subsequent pregnancies. 

At MFHS, our NFP program continually strives to explore potential collaborative relationships with other like- minded organizations to enhance the overall success of nurse home nurse visiting to help those in need. We are currently a partner with Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s “Free2BMom” program in which our NFP nurses will home visit moms with opioid use disorder (OUD) for two years after their childbirth. The Geisinger program arose out of a startling trend noticed by health officials in Luzerne County: a significant increase of babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a term for a number of problems a baby will experience when withdrawing from exposure to drugs. 

We’ve also partnered with Lackawanna College and its incoming president Dr. Jill Murray to work together to annually award full-tuition scholarships to MFHS NFP moms to provide a financial pathway to further their education. At our Annual Community Awards Luncheon in October, it was most satisfying to report that our first two scholarship recipients are excelling in the classroom, with both carrying above a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). These scholarships complete the ‘circle of care’, providing that key pathway to education and success. 

In addition, many of our NFP clients, upon completion of the program, choose nursing as a career path because of their experiences and the relationships they developed with their visiting nurse. Some former clients also serve as NFP peer counselors, who reach out to eligible women, talking to them about the program’s benefits and sharing experiences with them. 

In the final analysis, our Nurse-Family Partnership program continues to play a critical role in successfully reducing welfare use, improving maternal life course, improving cognitive development and academic achievement, reducing juvenile crime and improving birth outcomes. 

Most importantly, we’re always here for qualified first-time mothers who don’t need a handout, but the helping hand of a caring visiting nurse. 


Bette Cox Saxton
President & CEO
Maternal and Family Health Services 


Delayed Opening: Tuesday, December 16th

Due to the anticipated inclement weather Monday evening all MFHS offices will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, December 17th.

All appointments before 9 a.m. on Tuesday will be rescheduled. If you have questions, please call your local MFHS office on Monday after they open and we will be happy to help. Please exercise caution and allow for extra time while traveling. If there are any changes to MFHS office schedules, we will update this page. Stay safe everyone!


Delayed Opening: Monday, December 2nd 2019

Due to the anticipated inclement weather Sunday evening all MFHS offices will open at 10 a.m. Monday morning, December 2nd.

All appointments before 10 a.m. on Monday will be rescheduled. If you have questions, please call your local MFHS office on Monday after they open and we will be happy to help. Please exercise caution and allow for extra time while traveling. If there are any changes to MFHS office schedules, we will update this page. Stay safe everyone!

Shop and support MFHS!

Every year Black Friday shopping starts earlier and earlier, but you can avoid the crowds by shopping and giving online this holiday season! You can shop your favorite stores, all while never leaving the comfort of your own home. Not only can you shop your favorite stores, but you can also donate to nonprofits, such as Maternal Family Health Services, by using certain online platforms. Websites such as, AmazonSmile, and Giving Assistant all help support MFHS as well as other charitable organizations when you utilize their services! For more information on how these sites help to support MFHS, read below!

Each year MFHS partners with Goodshop. Goodshop allows you to shop at one of more than 5,000 participating stores (from Amazon and Sears to Zazzle) and a percentage of what you spend will be donated to MFHS at no cost to you. By doing something as simple as shopping at your favorite stores, you are helping to support women and families of Northeastern Pennsylvania who may otherwise not receive the services that they need. When registering for Goodshop, remember to choose Maternal and Family Health Services-MFHS as the charitable organization that you wish to support. A perk to shopping this site is that it lists more than 100,000 coupons and deals! By utilizing Goodshop, you could save money while also giving back to your community!

Another great way to support MFHS when doing your daily shopping is to utilize AmazonSmile. This service is automatic and at no cost to you. Using AmazonSmile over, does not change the services that you are offered though the site; you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience. The reason that you should use Amazon Smile in lieu of is that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of your items to your favorite charitable organization. You can not only shop the good deals, but also support MFHS at the same time; using AmazonSmile is a win win situation for all parties involved!

Lastly, you can use Giving Assistant to help support our mission! With Giving Assistant, your purchases at 2,500+ popular online retailers have the power to help us expand on our already existing programs and ultimately do more for the community. It’s free! When you earn cash back using their platform, you can also choose to donate a percentage of those earnings to Maternal & Family Health Services Inc.. It’s like changing the world with every purchase. Make your first donation using Giving Assistant today, and get first dibs on deals like exclusive Old Navy coupons, in addition to cash back donations at places like Staples (5%) and Macy’s (7%)!

Double Your Impact on #GivingTuesday 2019!

#GivingTuesday 2019 is almost here! Mark your calendars – this international day of giving is happening on December 3rd, 2019, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. MFHS is thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with AllOne Charities for the second year in a row to celebrate #GivingTuesday! Your donation will be doubled thanks to the generosity of AllOne. Here is what you need to know:

  • Every gift made to MFHS up to $1,000 total will be matched by AllOne. Donations must be made via the AllOne Charities website to qualify for the match.
  • You can make you donation from Wednesday, November 27th until Wednesday, December 4th at 4pm.

New this year: AllOne is offering two bonuses to the non-profits participating in 2019:

  • The non-profit that raises the most money earns a $1,000 bonus.
  • The non-profit with the most individual donors also earns a $1,000 bonus.

Please mark your calendars and consider making an end of year gift to support MFHS via the AllOne #GivingTuesday website. Every gift, large and small, will help us continue to provide life changing health and nutrition services to women, children and families in Northeast Pennsylvania.


MFHS Welcomes Two New Board Members

Maternal and Family Health Services recently welcomed two new members to their board of directors. The two new members include: Lauren Allen, Director of Client and Community Relations at PNC Bank; and Kyle Trivedi, Senior Council Consultant at Geisinger Medical Group.

Both are excited for the opportunity to consult on the agency’s board of directors by offering their own insights on further developing the MFHS mission of care in the community.


2019 Community Partner Award: Lackawanna College

MFHS is thrilled to announce that our 2019 Community Partner Award is going to Lackawanna College at our 48th annual meeting. Starting in 2018, Lackawanna College began providing full-tuition scholarships for clients from MFHS who are enrolled in the Nurse-Family Partnership program in an effort to continue to provide affordable, high quality educational opportunities to the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The organizations will collaborate to select one NFP client from each division of MFHS in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. Candidates for the scholarships are identified by MHFS and chosen by Lackawanna based on the applicant’s academic potential, financial need, and other variables that are best exemplified by the potential student.

“We are especially grateful to Lackawanna College for its very thoughtful and generous scholarship offerings,” said Bette Cox Saxton, President and CEO of MFHS. “It’s a remarkable opportunity for individuals who otherwise would be unlikely or unable to attend such an outstanding academic institution.”

Started in 1894 for the purpose of providing a quality education to all persons seeking to improve their lives and thus better the community, Lackawanna College has been educating inhabitants of Northeastern Pennsylvania for 125 years. Located in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna College is one of the oldest educational institutions in the region. Originally consisting of a business school to educate breaker boys of local coal mines in 1902, the college eventually grew to offer civil service courses and education classes for women actively seeking to enter the workforce. Once again the college adapted after World War II, now allowing returning veterans to seek further education after the war efforts and expanding curriculum to fit occupational needs of the time.

Today, the college offers roughly 30 different bachelor’s and associate degree options. Some programs include: Accounting, Human Services, and Hospitality Management. It also has a number of certificate programs and competitive training institutes. Though right now the college does not have a wide variety of four year degree options, being that it just started offering bachelor’s degrees in 2017, the institute is continuously working on expanding its reach within the coming years to better cater to the changing educational environment.

Congratulations Lackawanna College and thank you for your continued support of our clients!




2019 Youth Partner Award: Erin Keating

The 2019 recipient of the Youth Partner Outreach Award is Erin Keating. Keating will receive this award at the MFHS 48th Annual Meeting & Community Luncheon for her help in developing the MFHS SafeSpace health resource center within the Scranton School District. Her drive to get the program up and running, as well as her continued support and dedication to the health resource center until her departure from the school district, are what make her the ideal choice for the 2019 Youth Partner Outreach Award.

Dr. Keating received her BSED in English from West Chester University. She then went on to receive her M.S Ed. from Wilkes University along with her doctorate degree. Her doctoral dissertation focused on School-Based Health Centers and indicators in academic achievement, which ultimately helped Keating in her development of the Scranton health resource center. Working in the Scranton School District as the Chief of Leadership Development and School Operations, Keating helped to set the foundation for the now thriving health resource center. This center offers an opportunity for teens to ask questions to trusted adults, an opportunity to learn more about making healthy life choices, and an opportunity to receive referrals for health care as needed. The Safe Space Health Resource Center educators offer confidential counseling resources to those who may need their assistance as well as an engaging delivery method of said information.

Before her time in Scranton, Dr. Keating worked within the Wyoming Valley West School District. While there, she served as a middle school teacher, an elementary school  principal, and a high school principal. She is currently the Superintendent of the Old Forge School District. Keating has been involved in many school-based civic organizations within both Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. In these organizations, she has often been the voice of public education and the needs of students. She has completed two terms on the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Association of Student Assistance Professional as the Vice President. Today, she is a member of the Board of Trustees for Luzerne County Community College and an adjunct instructor in the Education Department at King’s College. She is also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators.

Thank you Erin Keating for all that you have done, and continue to do, as a youth educator, and congratulations on the award!




2019 Rose Allan Tucker Award: Maureen Rinehimer

During this year’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors, MFHS will be presenting the Rose Allan Tucker Award to Maureen Rinehimer. Earning her PhD from Seaton Hall University in Health and Medial Sciences, with a focus in Movement Sciences, Rinehimer has dedicated her time as a physical therapist to serving the children of Northeast Pennsylvania.

Working as a children’s physical therapist for over 40 years, she spends more than 300 hours per year treating children at Misericordia University’s (MU) Pro Bono Clinic, where she often utilizes her own funds to provide toys and other equipment to the children that she serves. Her help in developing the above clinic, which provides services to those who are uninsured or underinsured, is one of the many reasons in which Rinehimer is the perfect recipient for this years Rose Allan Tucker Award. She goes above and beyond the duty of Assistant Professor at Misericordia University, not only coaching her students in the correct physical therapy practices, but also dedicating so much of her time to bettering the facilities of the MU Clinic for all who have the pleasure of encountering it. Even when students are away on breaks, one can find Rinehimer working with patients at the MU Clinic.

In her practice, Rinehimer pays special attention to children with developmental disabilities, such as autism or cerebral palsy. Deemed the “whisperer,” she can get any child to happily participate in therapy sessions despite his or her immediate reluctance. This trait is greatly appreciated by all, especially by parents who have no where else to turn due to their child’s being unsuccessfully treated in other settings. Rinehimer has also aided in screening children who may need physical therapy services at a local religious school.  For the past two years, she has sent students from Misericordia’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program to screen children in order to learn the process of identifying those who may do better with the assistance of physical therapy.

Through her involvement as an Assistant Professor at Misericordia University as well as her dedication to treating children at the MU Pro Bono Clinic, one can see that Rinehimer has great passion for working with the youth of Northeast Pennsylvania. We are grateful for the opportunity to show our appreciation for Maureen Rinehimer at this years annual meeting. Thank you Maureen for all that you do to help the children of Northeast Pennsylvania!