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Female health care worker uses a stethoscope to listen to a baby's heart as the mother holds the child

Offering Support to Help Mothers and Babies Thrive

Karen Caldwell sometimes worried new mothers and their babies might not be set up for success as she watched them leave the hospital.

Her passion for helping mothers and infants led her to nursing. But working in labor and delivery, Caldwell raced to care for one patient after another during long shifts. She didn’t have time to assess whether a new mother had the support she needed to nurture and care for her baby after they went home.

Caldwell, now nurse manager at Dallas nonprofit Metrocare, is providing the in-home care and support she knew mothers and babies needed to thrive after leaving the hospital. The agency’s Flourishing Family program offers in-home prenatal and postpartum support, including physical and mental health checks and parent education. 

“We want to set up mothers and their babies for the best possible scenarios in their home,” Caldwell says. “It is so rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

In partnership with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the program was established in 2020 to increase health care access and provide resources to families, including referrals for mental health services, housing and public assistance, domestic violence shelters and primary care.

BCBSTX has awarded Blue Impact℠ grants to Flourishing Family and other nonprofits across Texas to advance work addressing social and economic factors that play a role in health and wellness.

“It’s important that we support community-based organizations that are directly supporting children and families,” says Sheena Payne, BCBSTX community affairs director. “Our collaboration with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas allows us to strategically and directly target organizations that are focused on and moving the needle on health equity solutions.”

Flourishing Family's nurses and social workers tailor the education and encouragement they provide, working with parents in the program to meet their needs rather than dictating how to help babies achieve developmental milestones, says Metrocare’s Carrie Parks, chief of intellectual or developmental disabilities provider and specialized services.

“Some of our clients are raising children alone,” she says. “Some moms feel so extremely isolated. They need to know what a good job they are really doing with their babies.”

The program enrolls up to 135 clients annually, providing up to 10 weekly visits. Families in need of additional support are referred to other programs, says Abigail Sharp, United Way’s vice president of early childhood initiatives.

“Our goal is to build a continuum of care in North Texas,” she says. “We’re connecting the dots in the community. We see that as a big piece of our role to help families learn about and access benefits, reduce barriers to care navigation and create awareness that programs like Flourishing Family exist.”

A reliable source of support

As she suspected during her years in the hospital, Caldwell has discovered many new mothers don’t have the help they need when they get home with their babies. After work, she keeps her phone on because she knows some clients don’t have any other source of reliable information.

“I have a couple of moms who message me every night with questions” she says. “They are really happy to have a professional resource and help from our team.”

During home visits, Caldwell watches mothers interact with their babies. Conversations about postpartum depression and breastfeeding struggles are common.

“The families are just so appreciative when you’re reinforcing that they’re doing a good job,” she says. “This is an amazing time in their lives. I love being able to help.”

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association