SPAN Empowering Women

Emerging Practice

SPAN Empowering Women

State/JurisdictionSettingPopulationTopic AreaNPMs
New JerseyHome-BasedPerinatal/Infant Health, CYSHCN, Adolescent Health, Women/Maternal Health, Cross-Cutting/System Building, Family CareHealth Equity, Mental Health, Substance Use, Nutrition & Physical Activity, Reproductive Health, Primary/Preventative Care1

Since 2013 SPAN has been a recipient of OPDD funding to address and reduce the risk of preventable developmental disabilities. For the first two years, SPAN provided provider education on effective communication of prevention messages to diverse women of childbearing age and individual assistance to at risk women. SPAN’s dual strategy of providing Peer to Peer Support Groups to at-risk women of childbearing age and provider education during the third and fourth years of funding and expanding upon lessons learned in years five and six to educate youth through high school presentations have shown to be effective at increasing knowledge and raising awareness about FASD prevention, social determinants of health, and risks of alcohol use. An evaluation of the project’s peer to peer support groups found that peer support plays an important role in the learning process about FASD: most participants reported that through participating in the group, they learned new information about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, while at the same time, the group reinforced and validated what they already knew.

Even before the OPDD funding, SPAN has had a long history of providing comprehensive information and connection to resources for families and professionals. As a Family to Family Health Information Center, SPAN shares Bright Futures information with families. Bright Futures information is preventive health promotion information that helps families make healthy decisions for their children on issues such as nutrition, exercise, screen time, avoiding secondhand smoke, child safety, etc. We partnered with National Family Voices in their IMPACT project, conducting focus groups with diverse families of children with and without special needs on Bright Futures topics as well as on life course theory. We also participated in a national study by Family Voices and Tufts University demonstrating that families of children with special needs were better able to implement health promotion messages when paired with trained parent mentors compared to simply receiving written information or participating in workshops. SPAN has conducted focus groups with Black and Latina women of child-bearing age about where they get their health information and effective strategies to help them learn and change behavior. SPAN conducted a scan of national and NJ birth defects prevention initiatives including projects funded by the Governor’s Council on 4 Prevention of Developmental Disabilities and coordinated activities of stakeholders aimed at preventing and reducing birth defects. We have also facilitated numerous focus groups with teens, college age students, and adult women of childbearing age from diverse racial, cultural and language backgrounds to learn from them about what they need to maximize their health and how to provide it.

contact information

SPAN Parent Advocacy Network
Nicole Pratt
(201) 344-2820