NICU Family Support® program

March of Dimes NICU Family Support is your resource to improve the quality of the patient and family experience in your unit. Our services are built around three main areas:

Educating Families

Providing education and information to families is one of the most meaningful ways to engage families in creating a positive experience while they are in the NICU.  NICU Family Support provides multiple ways for your families to receive critical information before, during and after a hospital stay.

Materials:   We make it easy for you to provide the most appropriate, relevant, and useful information as part of your patient and family experience in the NICU. Our content is reviewed annually by our Medical Officers and by NICU graduate families.

Educating families in the NICU

We have materials to support all NICU admissions, regardless of length of stay, acuity, or diagnosis. Both booklets and information sheets are available in English & Spanish, and are written in plain language with the average literacy level of 7th grade. This content is also available online through a customized web interface for your hospital’s families, accessible via

NICU Family Support booklets provide in-depth information across a variety of topics and are a great bedside teaching tool.  Titles include: In the NICU for a Shorter Stay and The NICU Journey.

NICU Family Support information sheets are available on a variety of topics, including Dads, Grandparents, Siblings, & Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

We also provide free downloads:

The NICU Journey: Caring for your baby in the NICU and at home booklet is designed to meet the needs of longer stay NICU families. Includes information for families that is helpful during the NICU stay, the transition home and after arriving home. The booklet contains information for all families in the NICU, including those with a premature baby, those with a birth defect and/or those requiring surgery.

In the NICU for a Shorter Stay: A guide for parents booklet provides information tailored to the needs of families with a baby in the NICU for less than 2 weeks.

Dads and the NICU: Your special role information sheet offers information and tips on how dads can cope during NICU stay.

Parent Education

“After we completed the core curriculum class, a dad told me he learned so much about his baby. He thanked me for ‘teaching me what my baby is trying to say.’”
     —NICU Physical Therapist, Louisiana

The March of Dimes has created a framework for parent education to establish consistency in the delivery of information and best practices in NICU parent education.  Seven different parent education topics have been created and evaluated.  

NICU Family Support parent education classes are designed to support the information needs of your NICU’s diverse families, while improving patient safety, communication with families and patient satisfaction.

Parent Education topics:

  • Caring for Your Baby in the NICU
  • Caring for Your Baby at Home
  • Caring for Your Family Means Caring for Yourself
  • Close to Me® (skin-to-skin)
  • Infant Nutrition
  • Keeping Germs Away from Your Baby
  • Watch Me Grow: Baby’s Development

Educating Staff

"The monthly presentations have made a profound impact on how staff handle themselves and handle each other." Megan Jones, BSN, RN, CPN, Nurse Manager, Children's National Health System.

NICU Family Support is committed to increasing the knowledge of NICU staff by providing on-going education for NICU staff and all NICU Family Support Program Coordinators.  The live and on-demand resources give staff the tools they need to work effectively with families and each other.  Monthly web based presentations are provided on current trending hot topics. 

Previous Topics have included:  

  • Palliative care
  • Music therapy
  • Family and infant mental health (watch here)
  • Boundaries
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
  • Milk Banking

Many hospital partners also take advantage of our NICU Training Institute to provide on-site or customized webinar training opportunities for their staff.

Improving Patient and Family Experience

Goal setting: The March of Dimes Area of Focus is a project planning tool used to guide sites as they work on various quality improvement projects. The projects are chosen by Unit leadership and graduate family advisors and help demonstrate the impact of interventions and improvements on the patient and family experience in the NICU.

Outcomes of these quality improvement initiatives include:

  • increased parent presence in the NICU
  • increased sibling inclusion in the NICU experience
  • increased support for skin-to-skin care
  • policy creation for cell phone usage
  • inclusion of parents in medical rounds
  • improved infection control policies
  • practices to support bereaved families
  • enhancements in staff education opportunities and more

Patient satisfaction

Our intent is that the powerful impact of this program will last far into the future, and families will know that with you, the March of Dimes supported them when they needed it most. Getting families together, proving opportunities to celebrate milestones or holidays are all activities we plan in collaboration with our family and staff advisory councils. We want to create the opportunity to accomplish your wish list of ideas your staff has for families. See our partners’ photo gallery for images of March of Dimes hosted events, parent education hours and quality improvement successes.

Voice of the Patient Panel: March of Dimes will also coordinates Voice of the Patient Panels to gather feedback from parents and family members on a specific project that the unit is undertaking or a specific area of service in which the unit wants to improve. This is a service we offer to all NICU Family Support partners.

Family Staff Advisory Committees: Ensuring that you have a forum for feedback from families is key in any process for improvement of patient and family experience. We play an active or leadership role with these committees in our partner hospitals. We can create a council, be part of one or support the recruitment for new staff and families.

Tracking and reporting

The March of Dimes ensures the quality of the NICU Family Support program by tracking and reporting on how the program improves the quality of care being received by babies and families in the NICU. Each NICU Family Support site submits data monthly, which is aggregated and analyzed for trends and best practices. Analyzing trends in real time provides the opportunity for the development of new resources to meet the changing needs of hospitals and families.

Pricing and contact

NICU Family Support programs are a combined investment from private donations/sponsorships, March of Dimes, and hospital funds. Contact us by email for more information. 

Carter’s is a proud supporter of NICU Family Support programs and parent education booklets