Volunteer Services

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Support Program

Babies benefit from a caregiver's touch, and a new volunteer program in St. Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will help provide that needed contact to St. Michael’s most vulnerable infants.

It's very stressful when an infant is admitted to the NICU. Babies on this unit may have been born prematurely, have experienced difficulties during their deliveries, or show signs of health problems in the first few days of life.

The Family Support Program uses specially trained volunteers to provide comfort to infants in the NICU and to offer support for families and infants in the unit.

Family Support Program volunteer duties include cuddling infants when their parents can’t be present, helping to entertain siblings while their parents are caring for the newborn, and providing companionship to families while they and their baby are in the NICU.

Volunteers will benefit infants and families participating in the Family Support Program by:

  • Alleviating the stress associated with hospitalization through respite and companionship
  • Providing stimulation and comfort to infants
  • Fostering a welcoming environment for families

NICU Family Support Program iconThere is also a research component to this volunteer position. Researchers will be collecting data on the program to evaluate its benefits to infants who are in the NICU because of opiate withdrawal. As such, volunteers may be asked for feedback in an anonymous survey.

How Do I Get Started?

Thank you for exploring the NICU Family Support program at St. Michael’s Hospital. We have been very encouraged by the amount of interest in this program from new applicants.  However, this also means that our program does not always have openings for new people to join us and, at the moment, the program is full.  

However, you may still choose to send us your application and we will hold your application in a special NICU file for future openings and contact you for an interview when we are once again accepting new volunteers.

Please complete the volunteer application (application, resume and references).


Need a snuggle? Vulnerable infants bond with volunteer cuddlers. Watch the video above and read the CBC News story.

Prior to starting, those selected for the position must complete:

  • A vulnerable sector police check
  • A corporate health check
  • A half-day training and orientation program in safe cuddling guidelines

Contact the program lead for more information about Family Support Program volunteer position.

If this volunteer opportunity is not a fit for you, feel free to share this position with someone you think would thrive.

Find out about other volunteer opportunities at St. Michael’s.

(Photos by BigStock.com)