204892 Home visiting program for pregnant women after incarceration

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 5:30 PM

Diane C. Martins, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Ginette G. Ferszt, PhD, RN, CS, FT , College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Anne M. Hecker, MS, RN , College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Helen M. Zakewicz, MS, RN , College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Background/ Issues:

The purpose of this project was to reduce health disparities by providing services to pregnant women who have recently been released from prison. The population of incarcerated women is growing more rapidly than that of incarcerated men. Approximately 75-80 % of women in prisons and jails in the United States are mothers and 25% are pregnant at prison intake or have delivered an infant during the past year. Once released from prison, pregnant women and/or new mothers confront additional challenges that place them and their newborns at risk for negative health outcomes.


While in prison, the majority of pregnant women participated in a support group with one nurse from the home visiting program. During the sessions, the women described the need for continuity of care and social support post their release from prison. If the women agreed and signed consent, they were entered into the home visiting program following release from the RI State Women's Correctional Facilities. The home visiting program was developed by nurses with expertise in public health, mental health, high risk populations, and maternal child health. The home visiting program provided in-home support, education, referrals and identified any barriers to obtaining community services. This program provided support to fourteen women over the past year.

Lessons Learned:

Our initial barrier was locating the woman post release from the prison since many did not have telephones and changed residence. This problem was reduced by obtaining permission to make a home visit without telephone contact. Home visits were planned within the first week following release. We have promoted access to health care, linked moms to services for emergency food, transportation assistance, community support programs, and newborn care. The women's level of stress was reduced by obtaining necessary household and newborn items.


There is a need to develop greater collaboration with other agencies such as Department of Children Youth and Families, housing, food, and health services. We have identified possible state and local sources to introduce to the women at the time of their release. A formal transition to the community program will need to be developed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe a home visiting program to provide outreach and education for recently released incarcerated pregnant women. 2. Discuss transitional program possibilities for pregnant women being released to the community.

Keywords: Prison, Home Visiting

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Diane C. Martins is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island. The focus of her work is in community health with high risk and vulnerable populations. Clinical areas have included work with the homeless, incarcerated women, minority health initiatives, school and home health care. Dr. Martins develops and supervises community and clinical nursing field experiences with registered nurses and pre-license undergraduates, mentors special projects and honors projects related to high risk populations including topics on homelessness, and prison health issues. Dr. Martins has been a board member for the RI Coalition of the Homeless and is a nursing volunteer for Travelerís Aid Society free medical clinic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.