Bright Start Nurse Home Visiting Program Image of a pregnant woman with the quote "They support the direction that you want to go."-Bright Start Mom

Home Visiting Nurses Support First-Time Moms

The SD Department of Health’s Bright Start Nurse Home Visiting Program expanded statewide in 2022, and BHSSC is a partner in the program’s expansion in western and central South Dakota. Bright Start is a free personal nurse program that helps eligible first-time moms focus on their health, from pregnancy through toddlerhood, to ensure a healthy start for their babies.

BHSSC’s Kate Karrels, RN, is one of two Bright Start nurses serving the northwest region of the state. She currently serves 18 clients, meeting with them on a routine basis. Karrels says every day is unique because the individual needs vary greatly—from supporting a mom whose baby is in the NICU to helping a mom learn positive parenting skills for her 18-month-old.

“It’s an amazing process where you gain and build trust and encourage women. It’s truly a great honor to walk beside these mothers as new, first-time moms. If you can support the mom in learning new skills, you can potentially improve the outcome for the future of the child,” Karrels says.

Karrels has several children of her own and says she’s very passionate about the Bright Start model. She participated in Parents as Teachers, a similar program, as a first-time mom. She says, “I’m a product myself of having the benefit of a mentor to walk alongside you and tell you, ‘You’ve got this.'”