Maternal & Child Health and 3 more...less...

OLH SHIP-related activities

Vermont Department of Health - Maternal & Child Health Coordinators (MCHC)

Injury Prevention

% of VDH District Offices providing infant safe sleep training and education to local community and providers

83%HY1 2019

Line Bar
Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: November, 2019

Author: Division of Maternal and Child Health, Vermont Department of Health

The Maternal and Child Health Coordinators (MCHC), are public health nurses employed in each Department of Health district office. They offer training and educational materials to parents, community groups, and medical/nursing staff on how to create a safe sleep environment for newborns and infants. The MCHC in all district offices do these presentations regularly, however this measure assists with insuring that regular community presentations and outreach are able to happen. As of 2017, the Division of MCH is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Vermont Chapter, and the MCHC's to revise the content of the community presentations and to create new outreach materials based on research with Vermont parents. These new materials will be ready for use in 2018. Some of the decline in the number of outreach activities are due to MCHC staff turnover. Also, we are preparing for a more systematic outreach when the new educational materials are completed.        


Partners include state and community professionals who work with pregnant women and families with infants, such as nursing staff of birth hospitals, physicians, parent child centers, Department for Children and Families, childbirth educators, and Nurse Family Partnership nurse home visitors.

What Works

Newborns and infants need a safe sleep environment in order to reduce the risk of injury or death from unintentional suffocation due to sleeping with objects or another human that may occlude the infant's airway. Key elements of a safe sleep environment consists of infants sleeping alone and on their back (not on their tummy), in a crib with a firm mattress that fits snugly against the sides of a safety-approved crib, and in the same room as the parent/caregiver. Infants should not sleep with another adult or child, and not in an adult bed or couch. Infant cribs should not contain stuffed toys, blankets, bumper pads, and other objects. Infants should not be exposed to tobacco smoke. In addition, all parents are encouraged to consider breastfeeding their baby.

In 2017, the DIvision of MCH embarked on a major education and outreach campaign for health care providers and for parents of infants. Focus groups of parents and providers informed the education campaign by analyzing participants' knowledge and approaches to creating infant safe sleep environments. From this formative research, a full messaging campaign was created, consisting of pamphlets, Facebook postings, a new VDH website section, and slide presentations for informing parents and for training providers. In addition, through a collaboration with the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program, work was inititiated with Vermont's birth hospitalts. The VCHIP project is to support birth hospital nursing leadership to create and implement safe sleep training for nursing staff and supports for parents of newborns and infants who are admitted to the hostpital (for newborn delivery or medical treatment.) A key role of the MCHC, as local nursing experts on infant safe sleep, is to collaborate and assist the Birth Hospitals to implement these educational activities to support promotion of infant safe sleep.

The Vermont research reports and educational materials can be found at

Action Plan

The Division of MCH will continue to support the District Office MCHC in the preparation and delivery of safe sleep educational sessions to community members. MCH will review the latest professional research on sudden infant death and inform the MCHC's of new findings that will be useful to community based providers and infant caregivers in their communities. MCH will also work with MCHC's to assist local community organizations to revise any policies and procedures to include up-to-date safe sleep practices. The Division and the MCHC will work with the Bith  Hospital Nurse Managers adn VCHIP to support implementation of infant safe sleep trainings for staff nurses and for families during their inpatient experience. 

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy