UTMB School of Nursing project awarded

The Texas Board of Criminal Justice honored the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing with the 2021 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award- Health Division for the undergraduate nursing project titled BAMBI /School of Nursing Collaborative.

This award was presented to Dr. Jacquelyn Svoboda, the Director of Educational Innovations, and the project lead, in a virtual ceremony in April 2021. The Governor’s award honors exemplary service and volunteerism making a significant impact in communities across Texas.

“This is an honor and quite humbling to say the least for the school to be honored in this way,” Svoboda said. “It recognizes the valuable & dedicated work of our students, collaborators, and our school.”

The Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative (BAMBI) is a Texas Department of Criminal Justice/UTMB program that allows low-risk, eligible offender mothers to stay with their babies in a secure facility while completing their sentences. The BAMBI/SON Collaborative Project was established in 2014 to support the mission and goals of the BAMBI Program. This project was created and implemented with the support and collaboration of UTMB Health System, UTMB SON, and TDCJ leadership and faculty. This SON project pairs senior undergraduate Bachelor of Science Nursing students with mothers in the BAMBI program to increase bonding through student-led pre/postnatal education, resources, and access in the inpatient setting. In addition to improving outcomes for mothers in the program, it promotes leadership and advocacy among the students.

The BAMBI/SON Collaborative Project piloted in the Spring of 2016. The project was supported through generous grant funding through the UTMB President’s Cabinet Award in 2016.

Since the project began in 2016, 161 students have provided more than 1,087 hours at the bedside, participated in 46 deliveries, and created and led 75 health educational sessions within the prison setting. 

Students who participate in the project are matched with BAMBI mothers. Students then provide student-led education in the prison setting and provide bedside labor, birth and postpartum support during the third semester of their nursing program.

Svoboda is convinced 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 of how to care for them as they grow together outside of the prison nursery.

In 2020, COVID-19 required modifications to the project, but virtual sessions and an open collaboration continued.

Currently, the BAMBI/SON Collaborative Project is transforming into a student scholar program. This scholar’s program will provide innovative approaches to developing undergraduate nursing student skill set in addressing maternal health inequities through advocacy, policy exploration, professional engagement, and service-learning. The SON looks forward to continuing this rich and engaging partnership with the health system and correctional system to improve the lives of mothers, families, and students alike.