First Born Program lends a helping hand

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By Jennifer Garcia

Families in Los Alamos who are welcoming their first child will soon have help transitioning to life with a new baby in the house thanks to an appropriation of state funds and a partnership between three organizations.


Los Alamos Medical Center, the LAMC Auxiliary and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation of Northern New Mexico have teamed up to form First Born, a program aimed at women who are pregnant for the first time.


The program, which began on Nov. 1, provides home visits for parents who have had their first child.


This includes adopted parents who are having their first child, as well as a new father or mother (even if they married a spouse who had a child from a previous marriage).


According to the brochure, the program “provides mothers, fathers and primary care providers (for example, grandparents) with education and support to encourage normal growth and development of babies in positive, nurturing families. The concept behind the program is that a healthy pregnancy and childhood are not only critical to the immediate well being of the child but are also basic to building a resilient family and healthy community.”


First Born Program Director Kristine Coblentz was in council chambers during the regular meeting on Nov. 3 to present to council information regarding the program.


“The program is actually 12 years old,” Coblentz said. “It was founded in Grant County, in Silver City and has had amazing outcomes.”She said that Rio Arriba County has had the program in place for one year and it currently serves 80 families in that area.


Coblentz said that in an effort to fund the program, the three partners raised money and state monies funded the rest.


“We will be receiving funds (from the state) this year, and we hope to find sustainable funding for this program,” she said.


She also mentioned that Grant County has been successful in finding funding every year that the program has been in place in their county.


The First Born program has been in the works for about a year. Individuals in the community have worked on exploring funding options, which resulted in the program receiving monies from the LANL Foundation as well as state/federal funding


The program is part of the hospital auxiliary, as the hospital could not directly sponsor the program.


First Born offers services within Los Alamos County and is made up of services not otherwise offered within the county, therefore, the services offered do not duplicate other county services. The program is currently sharing a small office with a staff member at the hospital.


Councilor Jim West questioned Coblentz about the structure of the program.


“Does each county have its own program or chapter, or are there several counties involved?” West asked.


Coblentz said there are independent organizations which all follow the same protocols.


“We have been doing the same thing to be getting the same outcomes,” she replied.


Councilor Michael Wheeler seemed to think the First Born program would be a positive step forward for families.


“A very small investment at this stage in life can have enormous payoffs for later in life… I was excited to learn Kristine is here and we have our program in Los Alamos County,” he said.