BabyCoach is a nurse-led support program for families of newborns discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) or special care nurseries (SCN).
University of South Carolina College of Nursing faculty Drs. Victoria Davis and Kate K. Chappell lead this program that aims to support families transitioning home with resources and referrals while prioritizing family needs. BabyCoach is a pilot program supported by SC Department of Social Services and part of the USC College of Education’s SC Child Care Inclusion Collaborative. It is one of the multiple child and family services across the state developed through funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Preschool Development Grant, Birth through Five Initiative.
South Carolina families with newborns who will have additional healthcare needs can benefit during the transition from SCN or NICU when going home. Currently, the program is limited to 50 participants in the pilot program.
Their newborn may have:
- Additional growth and development monitoring needs.
- Devices such as feeding tubes or oxygen.
“A nurse is needed to provide guidance for families with medically fragile children or those with a healthy but vulnerable infant leaving higher care nursery settings. BabyCoach provides reassurance about everyday baby questions and those extra needs that come up for more fragile babies," says Chappell. "It is already overwhelming bringing home a healthy baby – a baby who had a complicated delivery, or needs additional care, is another level of parenting stress. We connect with families to support their success as parents across any need they encounter."
Guidance and support are beneficial for families with new stressors such as using new devices, ensuring safe feeding, and preparing for childcare.
Families complete an initial survey while their infant is still in NICU/SCN or following discharge to understand their situation and needs. The family will complete follow up surveys after each nurse visit. The first visit with a nurse, either at home or virtual, occurs within two weeks of the infant arriving home. The second visit follows four to six weeks after.
During visits and on follow up, the nurse:
- Answers baby care questions.
- Supports parents on special care or equipment for the infant.
- Identifies connections or resources to increase support and meet the family’s needs.
BabyCoach, with partner Help Me Grow SC, connects families to resources such as finding health care, accessing affordable transportation to infant appointments, and following up on referrals to assessments or services.
Parents receive a welcome kit from BabyCoach sponsor, Today Is a Good Day that includes a sleeper, a milestone journal, and other items. Each family receives two gift cards after both visits with their BabyCoach nurse.
To connect a SC parent or caregiver with a newborn in NICU/SCN, or who has been discharged home within the past two weeks, complete the contact us form at BabyCoachSC.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you work with families who may benefit from this program, please contact the BabyCoach team to explore best options.