The Empower Program™

Empower families with the knowledge and reassurance

The Empower Program is an early intervention, family-centered, multi-sensory, developmental care program for parents of babies born at less than 30 weeks gestation. Designed by both parents and health care professionals at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, The Empower Program provides families with the knowledge and skills needed to parent their premature baby in the Newborn ICU.

Evidence supports that parents who quickly engage in the care of their babies in the NICU tend to be more sensitive to their babies’ cues and have better relationships with them in later years, which is a positive predictor for improved infant outcomes. Because of the altered mood states of many parents who deliver a premature baby, it is important to provide parents with information and education in a format that is repetitive and can be retained over time.

The Empower Program:

  • Uses multiple senses to aid in retention. Over the course of six weeks, and 3 separate parts, parents are given multiple opportunities to learn about their baby’s behaviors and appropriate parenting strategies through written word, pictures, video and hands-on training.
    • Part 1 is given within 2 to 4 days of the infant’s admission to the NICU. Education is specific to infant cues and physical characteristics and provision of breast milk.
    • Part 2 is offered 2 to 4 days after Part 1. Education is specific to nuzzling, skin-to-skin holding and reinforcement of Part 1.
    • Part 3 is a little more flexible and is dependent on the individual needs of the baby. Typically, Part 3 is given 4 weeks after Part 2 (approx. 5-6 weeks of age). Education is specific to infant cues (as age increases over time), PO readiness, infant massage and reinforcement of Parts 1 and 2.
  • Is consistent with The Joint Commission’s requirement for patient-centered care and was supported by a community grant from the March of Dimes.
  • Was nominated for the Magnet Prize in 2007.