Peer Mentor Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Peer Mentor?
Peer Mentors are seasoned NICU parents who have had a premature child, have had a child with a special health care need or have experienced a loss and who are willing and able to assist other new parents facing similar circumstances. Peer Mentors provide emotional support and resources to fellow NICU families.
Does Hand to Hold match only parents or can caregivers also find a peer match?
Hand to Hold’s core service is our peer match, so that every parent has a hand to hold as they care for their NICU baby or grieve a loss. These services are valuable for any caregiver, and we can match relatives, grandparents, and legal guardians.
Who is eligible to volunteer as a Peer Mentor?
We are looking for parents and caregivers who have had a NICU experience, have had an infant born with a special health care need or have experienced the loss of a baby. Peer mentors should also have two to three years of experience as parents after a NICU experience. We find that a peer mentor will be able to provide more assistance if some time has passed since the birth of their child. If your NICU experience is recent, you may better benefit as a recipient of Hand to Hold’s programs and services.
What kind of training do Helping Hand volunteers receive?
Peer Mentors receive training to better understand the difference between peer support and a professional counselor, to recognize signs of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, to identify when a parent or caregiver needs professional support, to hone listening skills and to encourage self-care for themselves and the person they are helping. Peer Mentors also go through a background check.
Does Hand to Hold and its volunteers ever give medical advice?
No. Hand to Hold is designed to help families before, during, and after NICU a stay and infant loss by providing powerful resources for the whole family, and most importantly, one-on-one mentoring from someone who has been there. Our resources are by no means a substitute or replacement for care by a physician or therapist. Volunteers and staff are specifically instructed not to offer medical advice.
What is the time commitment required for Peer Mentors?
The time commitment varies when peer mentors are matched with families. Once you are matched, you both can decide when, how often and for how long you will correspond. It could mean phone calls each week, corresponding via text or social media, regular emails – a variety of ways to correspond. Both the peer mentor and the mentee decide what level of support is best for them.
Are there other volunteer roles available for parents?
Yes. Our Community Volunteer Program provides support to NICU families by allowing volunteers to give their time with hands-on and remote support to our organization. Hand to Hold often needs volunteers to staff local events and perform various administrative tasks at our headquarters. You can also connect with fellow parents and ask questions on NICU Family Forum, our interactive online support network that allows NICU families to seek out advice and share inspiration directly with one another. Join our volunteer list to find out about upcoming opportunities.
Can health care professionals be involved?
Absolutely. We welcome the participation of health care professionals. Help us spread the word to parents you know who could benefit from one-on-one peer support. Visit our Health Care Professionals page to learn more.
Does Hand to Hold charge for services provided to parents and their families?
No. Hand to Hold is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and fundraises from individuals and organizations to cover these services and education for the benefit of Hand to Hold families.