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Family Connects NJ Nurse Manager Grysmeldy González Named Burke Foundation 2023 Community Champion

“We’re all part of the same greater ecosystem, so true partnership and collaboration is the only way to bring about change.”
– Grysmeldy González, Nurse Manager, Family Connects

Family Connects NJ Nurse Manager, Grysmeldy González, was recognized by the Burke Foundation as a 2023 Community Champion for her leadership in helping build New Jersey’s first universal home-visiting site. She believes in the power of connecting with families in the earliest weeks as a way of building a solid foundation for family bonding.

Every year, the Burke Foundation honors Community Champions, individuals whose work transforms the lives of families during the First 1,000 Days from pregnancy to age 2.

Family Connects Mercer County provides a free in-home nurse visit to all families that give birth at Capital Health Center-Hopewell and live in Mercer County, regardless of income or background. Family Connects strengthens bonds within families of newborns and links them to supportive community resources. The program is also available to adoptive and foster parents, as well as those experiencing a fetal/birth loss.

Community Champion: The first weeks after a birth are often the most challenging for mothers and babies, leaving both feeling isolated and vulnerable. Grysmeldy González was a home-visit nurse and now leads a team of dedicated professionals for Family Connects Mercer County, New Jersey’s first universal home-visiting site. Based on her own experience, she preaches the power of connecting with clients and building relationships with families.

“I was one of the first nurses hired on this pilot at the end of 2021 and it was truly a riveting experience to help launch the program from the ground up,” says Grysmeldy. “I’m very proud of all the work the nurses and the other individuals and partners involved have done to make this possible. Our team’s biggest accomplishment was completing 1,000 visits, which we hit last month!”

Free, nurse-led, and comprehensive: Grysmeldy credits Family Connects’ success to its wide range of assessments. “Nurses are ideal for providing holistic care as we try to set up families for success by assessing not only their health, but their emotional well-being, environmental safety, parent-child relationships, and parental/social support,” she explains. “Our nurses help clients sign up for Medicaid, WIC, and SNAP. They help them find baby items, food, and childcare. They make referrals to mental health services, legal/immigration aid, and case management, just to name a few.”

Relieving stressors: “One of the biggest challenges for families during the First 1,000 Days is lack of support, from people close to them as well as from society as a whole,” explains Grysmeldy. “The stressors from life, work, and family, and financial pressure can greatly affect the bonds created among family members.” The Family Connects team encourages all potential caregivers to participate in the visit, assessing how family members interact with the newborn, and helping them learn how to bond with a baby in ways that aid in development.

Read the full interview for more insight from Grysmeldy on progress being made toward more equitable care for Black and brown women.