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Banner: Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative (BAMBI)

Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative (BAMBI)


UTMB has a long history of working with underrepresented groups, including the uninsured and incarcerated populations. The Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative (BAMBI) was established in 2010 by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in collaboration with UTMB to allow low risk, eligible offender mother to be housed with their babies in a secure residential facility following delivery rather than sending the newborn to family or alternative care. Offender mothers must be eligible based on length of sentence, nonviolent offenses along with other specifications.

In 2016, the unique out-of-prison nursery program, BAMBI (TDCJ & CMC) partnered with UTMB's Health System and UTMB's School of Nursing to create the BAMBI/School of Nursing Collaborative Project. This partnership formed when a TDCJ Hospital Galveston nurse, Brenna Ferguson inquired what could be done to better support the BAMBI offender mothers in breastfeeding efforts and bonding. This initiative was formed through the work of a campus wide committee, which included the Women's Infant & Children department leadership, the SON leadership, TDCJ Hospital Galveston leadership, and TDCJ leadership to help improve maternal- newborn bonding and breastfeeding by partnering the BAMBI Program with the UTMB BSN student cohort.

UTMB alumna (SON '99) and current SON faculty member, Jacquelyn Svoboda, has graciously served as a liaison between the collaborators and has continued to maintain the initiative that impacts countless lives throughout our community. Svoboda started her work with BAMBI because of her strong passion for women's health and working with vulnerable populations. Her enthusiasm and commitment have been the driving forces to expand this initiative into the SON BSN Program, and to provide a template for other states to scale and implement in their communities.

As Svoboda, Veronica Kwarteng-Amaning (TDCJ/UTMB and SON alumna 2002, GSBS alumni 2017), Natalie Bachynsky (SON '98, 2008 UTMB alumna) and Elizabeth Moore (BAMBI Liaison) and the other team collaborators began their work with the project initiative, the team identified three primary needs for the program to become more effective, meaningful and to increase bonding between mother and baby: pre/postnatal education, resource and access in the inpatient setting. As a team, they recognized three tangible solutions that could improve the outcomes for all offender mothers including BAMBI:

  1. Student-led pre/postnatal educational sessions for all offenders
  2. Resources (both financial, supplies and personnel) for the prison and BAMBI facility
  3. Bedside student birth and postpartum companions to improve mother-newborn access

These efforts would assist the offender mothers and their newborns, while also creating a unique service-learning opportunity for our BSN students.

How It Works

The BAMBI/School of Nursing Collaborative Project was launched to meet the unique needs of low-risk* incarcerated mothers housed in the established out-of-prison nursery. The innovative service-learning project was created by the leadership teams and faculty within the UTMB School of Nursing, UTMB Health System and TDCJ Hospital Galveston System to support the mission of the BAMBI program while also capitalizing on the clinical and leadership skills acquired by current BSN students.

Teams of senior BSN nursing students (up to 12) and faculty were established each semester to provide collaborative care, education and bedside companion support to offender mothers. Students must apply and qualify to be part of this project. Students receive specific and unique training through lactation sessions, childbirth education sessions and through security specific training at the beginning of the semester. The chosen student cohort provide seven educational sessions for all offender pregnant mothers at TDCJ's Carole S. Young Medical Facility to improve the mothers' knowledge of prenatal, postnatal and infant care. Students who participate in the project are matched with BAMBI offenders and offer mentorship time following each education session. Students who are matched with the BAMBI offenders then remain on call for the duration of the semester as well as the faculty, Svoboda. When the BAMBI offender mother is in labor, the nurse contacts Svoboda and she contacts the student to prepare to arrive in labor and delivery. Students then serve at the bedside as birth and postpartum companions through the mother's hospital stay. In addition, within this project, the nursing staff support the mothers by promoting skin-to-skin contact with their babies as well as breastfeeding during the initial stages after childbirth.

Benefits of the Program

Since the spring of 2016, participants in the BAMBI collaboration have served more than 800 hours at the bedside, participated in more than 40 labor and postpartum experiences, and conducted 56 educational sessions. This collaboration not only helps incarcerated mothers, it also promotes leadership and advocacy among BSN students.

Julie Stefanick, a 2018 BSN graduate, is confident that Mrs. Svoboda and the BAMBI Collaborative Project shaped her educational experience at UTMB and guided her career trajectory.

"Professor Svoboda passionately introduced the initiative to our cohort, and I knew immediately that I wanted to participate," Stefanick said.

After working in both the public-school system and the prison system, Stefanick found her calling in women's reproductive health. She recently accepted a job with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center working in gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine. She will be responsible for assessing patients for clinical trial eligibility, then following them through the trials. She will also collaborate with multidisciplinary teams to monitor and evaluate both the patient and family response to the treatment protocol.

Stefanick attributes her educational success to her experience in BAMBI, noting how Svoboda worked hard to incorporate both clinical experience and education into the initiative for her students.

"As student nurses we prepared and presented classes on prenatal and postnatal nutrition, breastfeeding, newborn and mother bonding and several other topics," Stefanick explained.

Svoboda understands that this type of innovative project has the potential to not only promote the bonding for the offender mothers with their babies today, but to also strengthen the mother's confidence and understanding in how to care for them as they grow together outside of the prison nursery system. As an educator, she also sees the impact of this project to be profound and empowering for the BSN student cohorts. The project impresses on the importance of caring for patients without bias, the importance of educating patients so they can make better choices and the importance of advocacy in nursing.

Future of BAMBI

Because there is no other project in the country which supports pregnant offender mothers by utilizing students' nurses as educators and companion support, one of the major goals of the collaboration was to inform other states about the initiative. Svoboda and Dr. Veronica Kwarteng-Amaning (UTMB Alumna) and Dr. Natalie Bachynsky (UTMB Alumna) have presented their collaborative efforts at state and national conferences, including ACNN National Magnet Conference, American Academy of Nursing (AAN), American Correctional Association, AWHONN and others. Svoboda, Kwarteng-Amaning, Elizabeth Moore and Dr. Tammy Cupit are also working on future research opportunities to look at the outcomes of this project.

The BAMBI Program is now in its ninth year and will continue to reach pregnant and mother offenders throughout the state of Texas. The SON is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and to have a part in improving outcomes for mothers and newborns. Svoboda will continue to serve as the strong faculty lead working with current nursing faculty and students to provide a meaningful and long-lasting service-learning experiences.

The School of Nursing is extremely fortunate to have Svoboda impact our curriculum and mission of helping underrepresented populations. She has been instrumental in the BAMBI/SON Collaboration and will continue her efforts to work with this campus wide collaborative to ensure the state-wide initiative be an example to other communities.

The Holiday Style Fashion Show & Luncheon was established by UTMB's School of Nursing to help support its Honors Program. This sophisticated daytime gala features a professional runway show, exclusive silent auction packages and a gourmet meal to gather our supporters in a formal setting and recognize our honor student recipients.


Held on November 27 , at the Galveston Island Convention Center, 2018 marked the seventh consecutive year of the event, attracting more than 550 individuals from the greater Houston/Galveston area. Through the silent auction, table sponsorships, ticket sales, and donations, generous supporters helped raise over $165,000.

Funds raised at this year's event will fully fund eight honor students pursuing their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in the 2019-2020 school year.


The Honors Program attracts some of the brightest and most sought after nursing students in Texas. This prestigious program grooms students to be leaders in their field. Participants in the program perform at the top of their class, engage in an immersive community and public health project, and engage with state and local legislators on health policy issues. Investment in these brilliant students will yield great rewards for the patients, families and communities they will serve.

When I attended the fashion show, I felt so much gratitude for all of the people who attended and/or donated money. It is amazing to think that people who don't even know me would offer something so substantial and helpful towards my future. Being able to tell all of them ‘thank you’ in person, and get to know their life story was so special. I am grateful to those who helped me to be in this program through this scholarship.
– Jamie Berry, class of 2019

SON Dean Deborah Jones Receives President Award

Congratulations to Dr. Deborah Jones, Senior Vice President and Dean of UTMB's School of Nursing and Dr. David Marshall, Vice President and Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer! They are recipients of the President's Award from the Texas Nurses Association, District 9. We are so proud of their contributions and appreciate their leadership!

Congratulations to Ashley Edgar for capturing first place in the Gold Foundation's 2018 Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest.

UTMB's School of Nursing Online Master's Program has been ranked #1 nationally by Online College Plan.

Archived SON News Briefs

Christen Sadler, MSN, CNM, CNE, LCCE, FACCE, has been elected as a Delegate to the Texas Nurses' Association, District 9. As a TNA D9 Delegate, she will represent the district in the statewide House of Delegates, the TNA's governing body. This is a terrific opportunity to help make advances for the nursing profession on a state level! Thanks for your leadership, Ms. Sadler!

Andrea Colburn, DNP, MSN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, has been elected to The Society for Vascular Nursing Board of Directors. Dr. Colburn, Assistant Professor in our Department of Graduate Studies, continues to pursue opportunities to bring a leadership perspective to the table in which innovative solutions to vascular health disparities will be explored.

Adrian Juarez, PhD, RN, on his selection for the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators! Dr.Juarez is 1 of only 10 individuals selected nationally for the second cohort of this three - year program.This prestigious fellowship recognizes early - to mid - career nursing scholars and innovators, and involves their participation in an innovative project or study. Great work, Dr.Juarez!

Congratulations, Dr. Shannon Stevenson! Dr. Stevenson successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, Exploring Nursing Students' Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Academic Integrity and Willingness to Report Peer Violations. Congratulations!

Dr. Adrian Juarez was awarded an ASSET fellowship for mentored training through San Diego State University this summer. Addiction Scientists Strengthened through Education and Training (ASSET) is a research and education R25 program funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.