When we wrote about adoption agencies needing volunteers to cuddle newborn babies, there was a bundle of joy… in terms of excited comments. It turns out there are more than just a few of you who would love to step up to the volunteer gig of a lifetime (well, two lifetimes, yours and theirs!) with open arms. Way to go, you amazingly awesome people! We reached out to adoption agency Spence-Chapin to find out more about the process and how you can become involved.
According to the folks at Spence-Chapin: “The Interim Care Provider is a person who is dependable, nurturing and committed to making a difference in the life of a child.”
How does the application process work?
If working directly with Spence-Chapin’s Interim Care Providers program, you first submit an initial application and from there a member of their Child Care Team will get in touch with follow up questions and to discuss the next steps.
If approved, applicants meet with Spence-Chapin staff and receive training on newborn care, roles and expectations, as well as other needs of the infants.
Can anyone volunteer?
Not exactly. Volunteers must be able to commit to caring for a newborn baby 24/7 when requested, they must be adults over the age of 25, and they can be single/married couples/unmarried couples/”empty-nest households”/etc. They must also be willing to complete the Spence-Chapin training and home assessment as well as maintain their training and licensing requirements throughout the program.
“The commonality between our interim care providers is their ability to provide a safe space for women and their partners to have the clarity to make an informed decision,” says Linda Alexandre, Director, Domestic + Special Needs Adoption, Spence-Chapin.
For Spence-Chapin in particular, volunteers can live within their service area of 100 miles from New York City, including Long Island, northern New Jersey, Westchester and the Hudson Valley, and all New York City boroughs.
For those looking to volunteer in other areas, there are agencies across the country looking for care-givers, foster parents, forever families and more. Maybe this program will catch on in other areas as well.
What do volunteers need to be prepared for?
The infants who are in need of care are up to eight weeks old and are usually placed with caregivers for two to six weeks, although it could be as little as a few days.
Interim Care Providers are expected to provide a safe family atmosphere of “acceptance, kindness, and understanding” as well as give each infant the attention and care that they need to “promote normal development and attachment.” They must also document milestones by taking pictures and writing down observations, attend quarterly training, participate in any scheduled visitations with birth parents or adoptive parents, and attend well-baby visits and medical appointments. Basically, give the baby all of the attention and care they need in the precious first few weeks of their little life.
Interim Care volunteers also need to be aware that this is not a foster placement and it is not possible to eventually adopt the child you are caring for.
“Placing their newborn in Interim Care allows biological parents to continue counseling to fully explore their options while knowing their baby is being cared for by a nurturing caregiver in a loving home,” Interim Care Provider program organizers Spence-Chapin.
Are there other opportunities out there?
There sure are! Through Huggies’ “No Babies Unhugged” program, Canadian hospitals are recruiting baby huggers to give some much-needed TLC to little ones.
Awesome people doing amazing things, indeed.
Are you interested in being a baby cuddling volunteer? Tweet us @britandco!
(Photo via Getty/iStock)