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Children First Program

Children First is a free program for first-time mothers in Oklahoma that provides personal visits with specially trained nurses beginning early in the pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday.

The program was founded in 1996 as Oklahoma’s first Nurse-Family Partnership, based on the research of Dr. David Olds.  

To be eligible, participants must meet the following requirements:

  • First-time mother.
  • Monthly household income at or below 185% of federal poverty level.
  • Less than 29 weeks pregnant at enrollment.

The goal of the voluntary, evidence-based program is to empower families to better care for themselves and their babies by providing information, education, health assessments, safety and developmental consultation, and connecting participants with available community resources.

Children First program services are provided through county health departments.

During the personal visits, nurses provide education on pregnancy, labor and delivery, and parenting skills such as feeding, bathing and toilet training. The nurses also support the client as she accomplishes life goals like completing high school, going to college, choosing a career or owning a home.

There are currently approximately 70 Children First nurses available for home visitation.

Initiating prenatal care in the first trimester and attending regular prenatal visits help to ensure a healthy pregnancy and increase the probability of having a healthy baby. By allowing a healthcare provider to identify potential problems early, the majority of pregnancy and birth-related health issues can be prevented.

The nurse home visitor remains in close contact with the mother’s Primary Care Physician through the course of the pregnancy, sharing pertinent health information to ensure continuity of care.

“The Children First Program was a lifeline to me at a very difficult time in my life. I am thankful for the thoroughness of Children First. My nurse brought educational videos, informative literature about babies and toddlers, taught me how to make my home safer for Madison, encouraged me to go back to college, helped me find needed resources and is an advocate for my daughter.”

- Cassidy B.

“I will never forget my Children First nurse, Kathy. She was a down-to-earth, sweet-as-sugar lady who comfortably came into my home and expounded upon the wonders of child growth, development, nutrition, etc. For a new mom, this information was priceless. Moreover, having someone sit with you one-on-one on a weekly basis was absolutely essential. I could ask questions and get the information right then and there. I believe the Children First program is invaluable.”

- Julia

“I loved the idea that a Registered Nurse would be coming to my home. I called to sign up and started the program, only to discover that it had so much more to offer than I could have ever imagined. The Program definitely helped me to improve my knowledge to be a mom, but also helped me to increase my desire to be a nurse… My C1 nurse Wendy was my model for what I wanted to be someday. She helped me improve not only the quality of life for my baby, but mine as well. She has all of my gratitude, respect, and I know that it was with her help, that I am where I’m at today. What a wonderful program to participate in, and now work for.”

- Melissa Jorgenson, Current Children First Nurse, Ottawa County

Julie L. Bonner (1969 - 2005) joined the Children First team in October 1998 as a Lead Nurse for Washington, Rogers, Nowata and Osage Counties.  In July 1999, she accepted a position as Nurse Consultant and transferred to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Central Office.  As a Nurse Consultant, Julie provided countless hours of training, technical assistance and made numerous site visits to Children First teams across the state.  She was instrumental in developing and implementing the Children First policies, training materials, program guidelines, client handouts and the Children First Lead Nurse Manual.  She was a certified trainer for Partners in Parenting Education and the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training.

Julie truly believed in the Nurse-Family Partnership model and the mission of Children First to empower first-time mothers to care for themselves and their children.  Children First honors Julie's memory by annually presenting The Julie Bonner Nurse Award to a Children First nurse who exhibits the following:

  • confidence in delivering the Nurse-Family Partnership elements; 
  • collaboration with peers and supervisors to develop solutions;
  • best practices to overcome common challenges;
  • enthusiasm for serving as a Children First nurse; and
  • an ability to reach a client's/mother's "heart's desire".

Most Recent Award Winner

Contact Information

Connie Frederick, BSN, RN
Program Manager

Susan Wegrzynski, MSN, RN
Nurse Consultant
Phone: (405) 426-8968

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Children First
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave, Ste. 1702
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK