Always Event(s): March of Dimes considers kangaroo care, or skin‐to‐skin holding of the premature infant by the parent as an Always Event(s)™ that is discrete, affordable and measurable. It has numerous proven health benefits for mother and baby and is indicated as one of the most comforting activities by NICU families. Close To Me is the intervention program being implemented to increase the early onset and frequency of kangaroo care in NICUs.
Overview: Close To Me is a comprehensive set of awareness and educational activities, tools and products designed to increase the early onset and frequency of kangaroo care and other positive holding experiences in a NICU. Under the Picker Grant, Close To Me will be implemented in 12 NICU Family Support sites, four that are currently conducting evaluation of the program and eight new sites. A Close To Me parent education hour will be offered monthly in each of the 12 sites in English and Spanish to give parents and caregivers an opportunity to learn about the benefits of kangaroo care. It will be conducted by the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist in collaboration with the NICU nurse educator or lactation consultant, in a location easily accessible by NICU families. Close To Me brochures will be distributed to all NICU families in each of the 12 sites. Educational activities and materials are intended to contribute to parental confidence in asking for, initiating and conducting kangaroo care. Each NICU family in the 12 Close To Me implementation sites will be offered items that will encourage kangaroo care and contribute to making it a positive experience. Items may include: hand mirrors to view their infant during kangaroo care, standing mirrors, privacy screens and comfortable chairs. This is intended to make the kangaroo care experience positive, private, intimate and comfortable. NICU Staff will receive Close To Me presentation/training conducted by the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist and other members of the health care team. Additional educational information and motivators will be provided to staff to reinforce their promotion of kangaroo care.