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Oregon Senate Signs Off On Bill To Create Voluntary Nurse Visit Program For Newborns

Oregon lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would provide free in-home visits from nurses to parents of newborn babies. 

Under Senate Bill 526, which was approved by the Oregon Senate on Thursday, nurses would visit homes up to four times in the first six months after a baby is born or adopted. The idea is to help new parents navigate the basics, including breastfeeding and sleep issues.

It’s a service Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, said she wishes was available when her kids were born more than 20 years ago.   “Having a new baby is hard, regardless of whether it’s your first or your fourth, whether you have a life partner or not, whether you are financially stable or struggling to make ends meet, whether you have a support network or are a newcomer to the area,” she said.

Opponents said they feared it would open the door, literally, to intrusive visits by nurses bent on digging up potential cases of child abuse. One group dropped its opposition when the bill was amended to specify that the in-home visits would be voluntary.

The bill will be considered soon in the Oregon House.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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