Joyce Witcher
California State University, Long Beach
May, 2013
There are over 500,000 children born prematurely in the United States each year, 75% of
these children require an admission into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU;
Muraskas & Parsi, 2008).
Upon the newborn’s admittance to the NICU parents feel fearful and anxious about the
illness of their child (Lefkowitz, Baxt, & Evans, 2010).
A common theme across several studies, regarding the parental experience while children
are in the NICU, is the sense of incompetence an individual feels in their role as parent
(Dusing, Van Drew, & Brown, 2012 ; Lefkowitz et al., 2010; Obeidat, Bond, & Callister,
2009 ).
With the high number of children being admitted to the NICU and the negative impact
this can have on parents, the purpose of this thesis project was to write a grant proposal to
secure funding for a support group for families with a child in the NICU. This support
group will be based on the principles of the Strengths-Based Perspective (Saleebey, 2009).
The overarching goals of this project will be for families to identify the individual
strengths they possess as caregivers and reduce the level of stress and anxiety associated
with having a child in a NICU.
Social Work Relevance
 A social support group would be a means for a social
worker to promote relationships between family
members who are faced with similar circumstance in the
 The social work profession also recognizes the
importance of incorporating evidence-based research
into practice (Comer & Meier, 2011). Therefore, a
support group for families with children in the NICU
utilizing the strengths-based perspective would align
itself with the acting principles of the NASW’s Code of
Cross-cultural Relevance
 The admission of a newborn into the NICU impacts many
families across all cultures
 The ethnicity of a child’s family can impact the mother’s
prenatal care and the likelihood of the infant being admitted
to the NICU (Esakoff, Caughey, Block-Kurbisch, Inturrisi, &
Cheng, 2011).
 With the knowledge that newborn infants from various
cultures will be admitted to the NICU, it is essential for a
social worker to be culturally competent and recognize the
ways in which culture can impact a family’s willingness to
seek and receive support.
 Target Population: The target population for this support groups is
families living in Kern County, who are currently experiencing the
admission of a child into a NICU.
 Identifying and Selecting a Funding Source: Thorough research was
conducted on the local, state and national level. Using several key terms
www.grants.org and www.grantmanship.org were accessed. The Beale
Memorial Library was utilized to access a grant database in order to select
an appropriate funder.
 Funding Source: Due to the ability to gain grant access and the
foundation’s mission, The California Endowment was selected as the most
appropriate funder for this proposed project. This statewide foundation’s
mission is to serve California by offering funding to programs and
communities that are designed to provide access to health care, especially
in marginalized and underrepresented communities
 Needs Assessment: This writer primarily utilized a group
development approach that is both “top down” (researcher
developed ideas) along with “bottom-up” (consumer and
provider input) to accurately determine the material, topics and
eventual utility of this type of group so it is useful and relevant
for families, based on the stated needs of this population.
 Project Budget: : The estimated budget for the proposed program
and subsequent evaluation is $44,200. The funding will include the
salary for a MSW social worker, direct program costs, and indirect
program costs. With this funding this support group will be
developed, facilitated, evaluated and maintained for one fiscal year.
Grant Proposal
 Program Summary and Description:. A professional with a
master’s degree in social work will facilitate this support group.
This facilitator will provide direct knowledge about various facets
that are integrated into a child’s admission to the NICU, during the
course of a 4-week cycle. This support will incorporate the
principles of the strengths-based perspective. Crisis intervention
will be provided as needed.
 Population Served: The population that will be served are parents
and caregivers in Kern County, who experience that experience the
hospitalization of a child in a NICU.
 Sustainability: This program has been developed to be continually
implemented, so long as funding is secured each year.
Grant Proposal
 Program Objectives:
Objective 1: At the completion of the 4-week support program
there will be a 80% decrease in the level of stress.
Objective 2: Each family member and/or unit will be able to
clearly identify two strengths that they have acquired or
recognized as a result of weekly meeting attendance.
Objective 3: Families that participate in this groups will have a 80%
decrease in feeling a loss of control over their ability to parent and
nurture a child that is admitted to the NICU.
 Program Evaluation: Two methods will be employed to evaluate
the overall success of this program: (a) weekly attendance sheet
and; (b) an evaluation questionnaire that will be distributed on the
last meeting of the 4-week program cycle.
Lessons Learned/
Implications for Social Work
Relevant literature is essential to support the creation of an evidence-based support
Parents that experience the admission of a child in a NICU can develop acute stress
disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder.
One of the most fundamental lessons learned about the grant writing process was the
importance of ensuring the grant project aligned with the mission of the funding
Secondly, many foundations look to partner with non-profit agencies; therefore the
partnership with a non-profit agency is essential.
Social Work Implications:
The social work professional must continue to utilize evidence-based practice to
create and implement support groups.
Social workers must recognize the stressors that families can experience as a result of
child’s hospitalization in a NICU and provide preventive interventions and
empowerment to families
Comer, E., & Meier, A. (2011). Using evidence-based practice and intervention research with treatment groups for
populations at risk. In G. Greif & P. Ephross (Eds.), Group work with populations at risk (3rded., pp. 89-95). New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Dusing, S.C., Van Drew, C.M., & Brown, S.E. (2012). Instituting parent education practices in the neonatal intensive care
unit: An administrative case report of practice evaluation and statewide action. Physical Therapy, 92(7), 967975.
Esakoff, T. F., Caughey, A. B., Block-Kurbisch, I., Inturrisi, M., & Cheng, Y. W. (2011). Perinatal outcomes in patients
with gestational diabetes mellitus by race/ethnicity. Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 24(3), 422426.
Lefkowitz, D.S., Baxt, C., & Evans, J.R. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of posttraumatic stress and postpartum
depression in mother of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Journal of Clinical in Medical
Settings, 17, 230-237.
Muraskas, J., & Parsi, K. (2008). The cost of saving the tiniest lives: NICU’s versus prevention. Virtual Mentor, 10(10), 655658.
Obeidat, H. M., Bond, E. A., & Callister, L.C. (2009). The parental experience of having an infant in the newborn intensive care
unit. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 18(3), 23-29.
Saleebey, D. (2009). Introduction: Power in the people. In D. Saleebey (Ed.), The strengths perspective in social work practice
(5th ed., pp. 1-23). New York, NY: Pearson.

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