Smooth Way Home™

Supporting a successful transition for fragile infants and their families from the newborn intensive care unit back to their community


The overall purpose of the Smooth Way Home Fragile Infant Project is to improve the social, developmental and medical outcomes of very fragile infants by enhancing the coordination of care and the quality of services provided to them as they transition from the newborn intensive care unit back to their home and community.


Southwest Human Development has played a leadership role in bringing together a wide range of community partners, including state agencies, community service providers, parent advocacy groups, hospital personnel, physicians and health insurance providers to address the needs of this very vulnerable population.



    • Increase the number of NICU babies who are connected with early intervention services prior to discharge or very shortly after discharge
    • Provide training and technical assistance to the community of early intervention providers related to specialized developmental assessment tools and intervention approaches appropriate for very fragile newborns and infants
    • Provide mentoring and resource support for families whose babies are transitioning home from the NICU
    • Special emphasis on support for families whose babies have eating/feeding disorders
    • Provide increased screening and support for parents coping with Perinatal Mood Disorders (PPD, PP OCD, PP Anxiety, and PTSD)
    • Provide Home visitation services for fragile infants and their families across Maricopa county who do not qualify for early intervention services or are waiting for their services to commence.


Identified Needs/Issues

    • Trauma and stress for families
    • Costly readmissions for NICU graduates
    • Missed opportunities to support babies’ optimal growth and development
    • Lack of coordination, communication and understanding between NICU and community providers
    • Lack of training for community providers in care of fragile infants
    • Missed opportunity for families to understand and be connected with community services


VINES: Virtual Neonatal Support Program

VINES is a partnership between Southwest Human Development’s Smooth Way Home program and Desert Neonatal Associates. We work together to support your transition home from the NICU, after leaving the very specialized care and intensive medical environment of the NICU.


Smooth Way Home staff can meet with you while you are still in the NICU and help you plan for the service and support you will need when you get home. This can include signing up for the VINES program and scheduling your visits with a neonatology specialist very soon after you go home. The Smooth Way Home coordinator will help you connect with other services you may need, including home visits from a fragile infant specialist, or a mental health counselor if you need it, and care will be coordinated with your community pediatrician.


For more information, please visit


“Smooth Way Home: Getting Ready to Go”
A Video for Parents with a Baby in the NICU

Parents who are getting ready to bring their baby home from the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) often need special support. For many, their time in the NICU was frightening and even traumatic. It can be scary to leave the safety and protection of the NICU: parents often feel overwhelmed, alone and unprepared for the journey home.


The Power of Parents Talking to Parents

    • Parents trust what they hear from other parents who have shared similar experiences
    • The parents in this video share lessons learned and offer tips for managing the challenges and stressors they encountered when they took their own baby home from the NICU
    • NICU families need to know they are not alone, others have traveled this difficult path, and that they, too, will one day be able to return to their “regular” life


Intended Audiences

    • Parents who have recently returned home or are preparing to transition home from the NICU
    • NICU staff
    • Community providers



    • Video on USB drive with HD/SD video files
    • Facilitation Guide: Ideas for using the video as a supportive tool with families
    • Resource Guide: Websites, organizations and helpful materials


To request your complimentary copy of “Smooth Way Home: Getting Ready to Go,” please email


NICU Parent Resources




Thank You to Our Community Partners

Thank you to Nourish, Raising Special Kids and Desert Neonatal Associates for your partnership in coming together to build the systems needed to provide coordinated care and state-of-the-art services to these babies.


For more information about Smooth Way Home, please contact Jennifer Harrison at (602) 633-8355 or Our fax number is (602) 633-8356.

Helping Arizona Children & Families

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