NICU Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions
I’m a NICU professional (social worker, case manager, nurse, etc.) that would like to learn more about your services in order to recommend them to the families I work with at my hospital. Where do I start?
Here are a few places to start:
- Learn more about the free services we have available to NICU families
- Learn more about the resources we have for bereaved NICU families
- For specific information geared towards professionals, visit our NICU professionals page
- Purchase printed materials and NICU Milestone Beads for your NICU
Do you have services in Spanish?
Yes! Visit handtohold.org/espanol to learn more.
What is a Family Support Specialist?
A Family Support Specialist is a Hand to Hold staff member and NICU-graduate parent who has been trained to work with other NICU parents in providing support during the challenging course of their child’s NICU stay.
Family Support Specialists are Certified Mental Health Peer Specialists. Peer specialists are people with lived experience, who have been successful in their own healing journey and who help others experiencing similar situations. They do this through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment.
Areas of professional development include, but are not limited to:
- maternal mental health and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders
- cultural considerations and racial equity
- ethics, confidentiality and HIPAA compliance
- best practices in peer support
I’m curious about your Support Groups. How do they work?
Hand to Hold offers Support Groups for a variety of needs and experiences. Each support group is facilitated by a Hand to Hold Family Support Specialist that is also a NICU or bereaved parent. Parents can view all Support Groups and register for the group that fits their schedule. All groups are hosted on Zoom.
Support groups are a safe place for people to share and support one another. Family Support Specialists sometimes use themes to drive discussion, but they always encourage organic conversation and sharing. The Family Support Specialist establishes confidentiality guidelines at the start of each group.
Want to learn more? Join us in our monthly Q & A for NICU Professionals.
Who can participate in the Support Groups?
Support Groups are open to parents of current NICU babies, parents of NICU graduates (no matter their age), parents experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, and bereaved parents.
We also have support groups specifically for Spanish-speaking families and Black families.
Can I attend your support groups?
Having NICU professionals in a peer support group changes the dynamics and impact for the parents involved. With that in mind, we kindly ask that you please respect the privacy of the families who join our groups by not registering for, or joining, a session.
What is a Peer Mentor?
Peer mentors are trained NICU graduate parent volunteers 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 parents as the voice of someone who has been there.
How can I refer someone to Hand to Hold to get a Peer Mentor?
If you are working with a parent that you think may benefit from peer support, you may direct them to request a Peer Mentor.
Can I fill out a request on behalf of a NICU parent?
While we appreciate referrals, we have found that the peer mentor request must come from the person wanting a mentor.
Our experience has shown that when professionals, family or friends refer a parent to us for a mentor, the parent referred often does not follow through to complete the matching process. They may be:
- Uncertain about what the program is.
- Not ready to receive support.
- Not ready to forge a new relationship.
- Juggling too many things at the moment.
Whatever the reason, parents must show they are willing and ready for a peer mentor on their own.
If you have additional questions about the Peer Mentor Program, contact our Peer Mentor Program Coordinator, Jenny Landry.
Tell me more about Hand to Hold’s counseling services for NICU families.
Hand to Hold offers free counseling services for parents and/or couples in Texas and Florida looking to process their birth experience or seek treatment for possible perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
The program offers free, time limited treatment (8-12 sessions), to be discussed with the counselor during the first session.
How can I refer someone to your counseling services?
If a family is interested in receiving counsling and meets all of the eligibility requirements, they can fill out our counseling evaluation.
Similar to our Peer Mentor Program, it is important that a parent or family request the counseling services themselves. Our experience shows that when professionals, family or friends refer people to us for counseling, the person referred often does not follow through with the intake process. The person must be willing and ready for therapy, which is shown by a self-request.
If you have additional questions, contact our Programs Director, Rachel Astorga-McCain.
Why do you only offer counseling in Texas and Florida?
Clinicians such as therapists must apply for a license to practice after meeting certain criteria and passing examinations set by individual states. Typically, therapists only hold a license for the state in which they live and work. To date, Hand to Hold’s counselors are only licensed in Texas and Florida.
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.
Does Hand to Hold staff and volunteers ever give medical advice?
No. Hand to Hold® is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) that provides personalized emotional support, educational resources and community before, during and after a NICU stay. Our resources are by no means a substitute or replacement for care by a physician or therapist (with the exception of our counseling services). Volunteers and staff are specifically instructed not to offer medical advice.