The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is a voluntary home visiting programme for first time young mums, aged 19 years or under. A specially trained family nurse visits the young mum regularly, from the early stages of pregnancy until their child is two. The FNP programme aims to enable young mums to:

  • Have a healthy pregnancy
  • Improve their child’s health and development
  • Plan their own futures and achieve their aspirations.

The FNP programme is underpinned by an internationally recognised robust evidence base, which shows it can improve health, social and educational outcomes in the short, medium and long term, while also providing positive economic returns.

History, vision and mission

The FNP programme was developed in the United States by Professor David Olds and his team at the University of Colorado, and is based on over 35 years of high quality research. This research has shown that Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), as it is known in the US, leads to a wide range of benefits for vulnerable young mothers and their children in the short, medium and long term. Through improving health, education and job prospects for mothers and their children it also creates financial benefits for those who take part, and results in substantial cost savings for the state and society in general.

The FNP programme was introduced in England in 2007. Initial testing began in 10 test sites, which were the subject of a formative evaluation by Professor Jacqueline Barnes of Birkbeck, University of London. The evaluation showed that FNP can be delivered well in the UK, that families liked it and the potential for positive outcomes was good. On this basis, FNP was expanded to cover more areas and is now well-established in England. A Randomised Control Trial (RCT) has been conducted in England, and the findings were published in October 2015. Check out the RCT page to read more about the findings and the FNP National Unit response.

Our vision, our mission

Our vision is that every baby, child and young parent can thrive, fulfil their aspirations and contribute to society. We work in partnership with others to improve the health, social and economic wellbeing of babies, mothers and fathers to achieve long lasting change. To do this we:

  • Learn from evidence, experience and experts to lead the development and implementation of FNP in England
  • Strive for increased impact and improved cost effectiveness
  • Collaborate with others to improve a range of services for vulnerable young families
National delivery

The national delivery of FNP is led by the FNP National Unit which also supports local organisations with implementation. The Unit is led by a consortium of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the Social Research Unit at Dartington and Impetus - Private Equity Foundation.

The National Unit is commissioned by the Department of Health and Public Health England, who hold the license in England and have the lead role for its strategic policy direction. It is also accountable to the University of Colorado for the quality of programme delivery and to ensure that it is implemented in the way it was designed.

In 1 October 2015, the responsibility for commissioning public health services for children aged 0-5 transferred from NHS England to local authorities. One of the benefits of councils commissioning 0-5 services is that it offers opportunities to link with wider systems, such as housing, early years education providers and to enable children's services to work better together. This in turn will provide a more joined-up, cost effective service built around individual needs.

FNP's National Unit’s role includes:

  • Providing strategic direction and working with national partners
  • Overseeing research and development
  • Providing a learning programme and clinical guidance to supervisors and family nurses
  • Advising on programme setup in local areas
  • Supporting local and national quality improvement
  • Leading adaptations to the programme so it remains relevant to the UK social context and reflects developing knowledge and evidence
  • Developing related products that help improve outcomes for children, focusing specifically on pregnancy and the early years.
How does FNP work?

By using a psycho-educational approach and a focus on positive behaviour change, FNP provides on-going, intensive support to young, first-time mothers and their babies as well as fathers and other family members if mothers would like them to take part. Structured home visits are delivered by highly trained nurses that start in early pregnancy, continuing until the child’s second birthday.

The FNP is a preventive programme and has the potential to transform the life chances of the most disadvantaged children and families in our society, helping to improve social mobility and break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. Health in pregnancy, and the quality of the caregiving babies receive during the first years of life, can have a long lasting impact on a child’s future health, happiness, relationships and achievement of their aspirations.

Family Nurses use programme materials and methods to enable young parents to achieve three main aims:

  • To improve their pregnancy outcomes so that their baby has the best start in life
  • To improve their child’s health and development by developing their parenting knowledge and skills
  • To improve parents’ economic self-sufficiency, by helping them to achieve their aspirations (such as employment or returning to education).

​In achieving these, family nurses work with young parents to enable them to:

  • Build positive relationships with their baby and understand their baby’s needs
  • Make positive lifestyle choices that will give their child the best possible start in life
  • Build their self-efficacy (belief and ability to plan and achieve their goals)
  • Build positive relationships with others, modelled by building a positive relationship with the family nurse​.

The FNP programme is underpinned by a robust evidence base. This demonstrates that if delivered well, it has the potential to change the life chances of some of the most vulnerable parents and babies, with long-term positive impacts on health, social and educational outcomes.

Theories behind FNP

The FNP programme is underpinned by three theories:

  • Human ecology theory (Bronfenbrenner’s theory): This theory emphasises the importance of social context and environment as an influence on human development.
  • Attachment theory (Bowlby’s attachment theory): This theory emphasises the importance of the security and safety that a primary relationship with a caregiver gives for a child’s healthy emotional development.
  • Self-efficacy theory (Bandura’s theory): An individual’s belief in their ability to achieve their goals and that realising these will lead to a desired outcome. Nurses use this concept to guide their efforts in supporting positive change, enabling clients to understand why particular actions are important and to develop the confidence necessary to achieve these.
What does FNP achieve?

FNP helps young pregnant mothers, their partners and their children transform their lives. Simply put, it does this by working intensively with these individuals and seeking to break cycles of disadvantage, raise aspirations and reduce inequality.

Family nurses work with young mothers and fathers to enable them to:

  • Build positive relationships with their baby and understand their baby’s needs
  • Make the lifestyle choices that will give their child the best possible start in life
  • Build their self-efficacy (belief and ability to plan and achieve their goals)
  • Build positive relationships with others, modelled by building a positive relationship with the family nurse​

Evidence-based

The FNP programme is underpinned by a robust evidence base. This demonstrates that if delivered well, it has the potential to change the life chances of some of the most vulnerable parents and babies, with long-term positive impacts on health, social and educational outcomes.

Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), as it is known in the United States has one of the strongest evidence bases of any childhood preventive programme. Its extensive research includes three large scale Randomised Control Trials, the most rigorous research method for testing the effectiveness of a programme.

The programme has been rigorously evaluated in England through a large-scale RCT. The findings were published in October 2015. Read more on the RCT page.

Cost savings

US research has also shown significant cost savings to the public purse from the long-term benefits of Nurse Family Partnership – for example from, improved employment outcomes for mothers and reduced risk of youth offending for their babies when they grow up – as well as financial benefits for beneficiaries, their children and wider society.