Spotlight Interview

June 2021
Interviewed: Rochelle Underwood, Pakou Chang, Luna Wright, Kourtney Eichten, and Cecilia, Kadija Mussa

Written by MNPQC Interns: Kavya Karthic and YooLee Yi
How and why was the Mother’s First program created?

The Mother’s First was founded in 1988 through Ramsey County. It was originally developed to help moms with substance abuse disorders; however, it soon expanded to assist other individuals with other drug addictions. The Mother’s First program centralizes most of our work in the Ramsey County area, but we extend our help to mothers that receive healthcare or other assistance from Ramsey County, even if they do not live within the County. 

What are the main initiatives/goals of the Mother’s First program?

Mother’s First provides a variety of services for all individuals within the program, and regularly works with other organizations to educate and assist mothers in an individualized manner. Because Mother’s First is an individualized program for each participant, the services provided can vary. We can educate individuals on safe sleep, smoking cessation, or safe home environments for children, and we also work with other organizations to test for lead and other potential dangers for children. In other cases, Mother’s First can help to find educational or employment opportunities. Some organizations Mother’s First regularly works with are the Child Protection Services, Solid Ground, MN Care Partners, and more. Collaborating with other community organizations helps us to give the best care to each mother and help each individual transition smoothly back to a stable routine. Mother’s First always provides prenatal and postpartum support for each mother as well. 

Another big initiative of the Mother’s First program is with the Ramsey County DHS Grant. Each June, Mother’s First presents an annual report on the well-being of individuals participating in the program and the overall effectiveness of the program. 

How has COVID-19 impacted the work of/the initiatives of Mother’s First Program? (work remotely, online meetings, etc.)

Luna – We always strive to stick with COVID-19 guidelines of CDC, such as offering hygiene and PPE equipment within the company, and abiding by social distancing and stay-at-home orders. In terms of connecting with clients, the pandemic halted a lot of personalized care and interactions with clients, such as providing help with groceries and transportation. We have made the best use of our online resources and provisions. 

Rochelle – It has definitely become harder to help clients within the hospital because of hospital limits, and the social distancing orders have also made it difficult for us to provide the normal amount of support and in-person support to give advice within the hospital. Most interactions over the phone, but we also provide in-person support when it is safely possible. 

 Kourtney – I believe our program gained a lot of traction within the pandemic year. We’ve been able to offer our resources to partners in the communities for support, and we likewise have received help from our partner organization during this difficult time. Others have been incredibly generous which allows Mother’s First to give more things to mothers in need, since Mothers First offers donated items. 

Cici – not too much has changed because we have to give individualized care, but there have been changes in the client’s comfort level during the pandemic and taking extra measures to stay safe. Depending on each client, the amount of time we can spend in-person with them can vary. 

How can MNPQC/MPO help to further the initiatives of the Mother’s First program?

Mother’s First is always looking for new learning opportunities to train our staff and other organization members. Being updated on training and learning opportunities through organizations like MPO helps us give the best care possible to our clients. In addition to training, Mother’s First is an organization that thrives off of referrals from professionals, mothers, citizens and community members. When organizations such as MPO highlight our program, we are sure that more people interested in the program can help or receive help.

Is there a personal connection that has fueled your personal drive for the Mother’s First program’s initiatives?

Luna – Mother’s First is an organization with diverse staff members with different backgrounds. We pride ourselves on having diversity, accountability, and transparency for our clients. My own experience as someone who was a child of someone who has dependency issues has given me the insight to provide the best care to the mothers and children in our program.

Cecilia – In general, I am an extrovert who loves to help people and interact with different people. I also personally understand what it is like to struggle within poverty and violent upholds, so I would like to shed light within each client’s life and bring a positive influence to help them make the needed changes and get their lives back on track. . 

Pakou – As someone who previously worked in an outpatient setting, I’ve learned to appreciate how the Mother’s First Program allows me to see and interact with each client within the community.

Rochelle – As a nurse, I am not always able to see a patient for longer periods of time. Through Mother’s First, I’m given a better platform to build relationships with and see the long-term success of each mother. Mother’s First allows me to play an integral part in helping others achieve a better story and see the long-term positive effect our work leaves on clients, families, and friends.

Kourtney – Currently, I am six years sober. As someone who has personally experienced homelessness and an unstable job history due to substance abuse, I want others to be able to achieve the long-term sobriety that has been achieved in my own life. 

Kadija – As someone who loves working with kids and moms, the work I do with Mother’s First gives me a lot of hope for future generations. 

What is the best way for individuals to get involved with the Mother’s First Program’s initiatives and goals? Who can individuals contact for more information?

A big way individuals can help out is through donations. Mother’s First provides donated items such as baby supplies, food, clothing, bottles, etc. to mothers for support. Donations from individuals all around Minnesota can help a number of struggling mothers participating in the Mother’s First program! For individuals seeking help, anyone can call and give a referral or self-referral for Mother’s First Program with the phone number and contact information provided below. 


Partner Spotlight

Mother’s First

Since 1988, Mothers First has helped pregnant women have sober pregnancies and assisted mothers with young children struggling with substance abuse.

Mother’s First provides families with prenatal, nursing, chemical health, and case management services. Women needing services can self-refer or be referred by friends, family, or correctional and medical professionals.

Make a referral by calling 651-266-4111
or visit their homepage to learn more.

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