Research shows that holding, rocking, singing, feeding, gazing, kissing and other caregiving nurturing behaviors are crucial to the normal brain development of babies. Without early nurturing it is difficult for a child to become a healthy, happy, and productive person.
The Rocking Chair Project works with healthcare professional training programs and healthcare organizations. The healthcare professionals choose expectant mothers who are in the greatest need and who would most benefit from the peace and comfort of a beautiful glider rocking chair. They health care professional visits the mother’s home after the rocking chair is delivered to assemble the chair and to counsel the mother. After the visit, the healthcare professional continues to provide healthcare for the mother and the baby at the clinic or hospital.
For the parents and children, the gift of a rocking chair is a concrete expression that people care about them, and for the healthcare professionals it is an expression of caring meant to reinforce key values of humanistic medicine including compassion, understanding, and partnership. Every new mother and baby, and especially those experiencing the pressures of poverty, needs time and space for nurturing. Giving a glider rocking chair to a mother will help her nurture her baby.
The Rocking Chair Project is a non-profit, 5O1C3 organization that was founded in 2001 by Trish Magee, an early childhood educator, and her husband, Mike Magee, a physician. That year, they purchased a glider rocking chair for their daughter-in-law, Susanna, a Family Medicine resident at Brown Medical School, who was expecting their first grandchild. Having raised four children of their own, they recognized the importance of having a comfortable rocking chair to sit in and nurture newborn babies.
Knowing how important such a chair could be to the well being of a new mother and her developing infant, and seeing the need of economically disadvantaged mothers in Providence, RI, they decided to take action. With the help of Susanna and her fellow residents, seven expectant mothers from the hospital clinic were identified. On the birth of their first grandchild, Anabella, the Magee’s donated seven rocking chairs. As each of the seven mothers gave birth, the resident made a home visit, helping the family assemble the chair and ottoman, and providing reassuring support.
The feedback from both the mothers and their doctors was overwhelmingly positive. In the next few years, the program continued to grow locally. By 2004, word of the program had spread, and the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation joined hands with the Rocking Chair Project to allow expansion of the program to other Family Medicine training programs throughout the United States.
In 2007, with the help of nationally recognized Early Childhood expert Edward Zigler, PhD, from Yale University and the renowned “Zero to Three” center in Washington, DC, the project developed a comprehensive collection of print and video training materials as part of an online orientation program for participating health professionals. This helped ensure that each visit would provide consistent quality, and not only nurture but support mothers and children in making healthy choices.
Over a decade after the Magee’s purchased that first glider rocking chair for daughter-in-law and son, the Rocking Chair Project has delivered thousands of glider rocking chairs, during nurturing home visits, to economically disadvantaged moms in 40 states across America. Each chair has been lovingly assembled with the family by caring health professionals including doctors and nurses, as part of their mission to care for others.
Research compiled in 2007 by the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy Child Study Center at Yale University reinforced the importance of the Rocking Chair project in supporting brain development and a mother’s postpartum recovery. In addition to benefitting both mothers and infants, the Rocking Chaitr Project has had a lasting impact on the participating health professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Rocking Chair Projec
1. What is the Rocking Chair Project?
The Rocking Chair Project is a non-profit organization that provides glider rocking chairs free of charge to economically disadvantaged expectant mothers as part of a health professional home visit. During the visit, which generally occurs 2 weeks after delivery, a specially prepared physician or nurse, assists the family in assembling the chair and provides nurturing, reassurance and helpful information.
2. Why is it so important to give rocking chairs to at-risk mothers?
The glider rocking chair and ottoman is a place where a mom can hold, sing, gaze, talk and breastfeed her baby, all crucial for infant-mother attachment. Rocking has been shown to be beneficial to a mother’s postpartum recovery. Giving a gift of a rocking chair, within the context of a non-threatening home visit, also strengthens the patient-health professional relationship.
3. How does the Rocking Chair Project identify at-risk mothers to receive the glider rocking chairs?
The Rocking Chair Project works in partnership with the medical and nursing training programs nationwide. The project is designed to give young health professionals in training the opportunity to identify those mothers who are in the greatest need and who would benefit most from the peace and comfort of a beautiful glider rocking chair and a home visit.
4. Is there follow-up on the part of the clinicians once the glider rocking chairs have been delivered to a mother?
The health professionals visit the mother’s home after the glider rocking chair is delivered to counsel the mother on the importance of nurturing herself and her baby. During the visit, the physician or nurse helps assemble the chair. The clinician continues to provide health care for the mother and baby at the clinic or hospital following the home visit. As a result of the RCP home visit, many health professionals report a strong and enduring relationship with their patients, and a greater insight into the lives of economically disadvantaged patients.
5. What is the donation to the Rocking Chair Project used for?
Donations are used to purchase the glider rocking chair from the furniture manufacturer at a significant discount and for the timely shipping of glider rocking chairs to the health care institutions or directly to the mother’s home. Local participants act in a voluntary capacity. All donations are tax deductible.
6. How is the Rocking Chair Project organized nationwide?
The Rocking Chair Project is a 5O1C3 non-profit organization based in West Hartford, CT. Participating organizations nationwide apply for certification as RCP members. As part of the application, they certify their willingness to comply with all procedures and policies outlined on the Rocking Chair Project’s website (www.rockingchairproject.org). These include formal orientation of all participants using online materials developed by the Yale Child Development Center and Zero To Three, as well as a series of online evaluative tools that define visit outcomes and results. Policy decisions, granting of institutional membership, communications and public affairs, product acquisition, quality assurance and IT support are managed by the RCP national office. Fundraising is a shared responsibility with local members. Daily operations and logistics are managed on the local level in conformance with nationally defined policies and procedures.
7. How do I donate to the Rocking Chair Project?
The Rocking Chair Project encourages online donations. Clicking the “donate now” button on the home page will bring you to the secure PayPal donation page (you do not need to be a PayPal member to donate online). The Rocking Chair Project also accepts personal checks which may be mailed to: Rocking Chair Project, 28 Wendy Lane, West Hartford, CT 06117
8. How do I become an institutional member of the Rocking Chair Project?
To apply for membership, click on “Starting a new RCP” at the navigation bar at the top of the Home page, and follow directions.
9. What are the guidelines for becoming a new RCP site?
The guidelines for a successful RCP application are the following:
a. Must be an accredited post-graduate medical or nursing training program.
b. Must serve mothers who are either Medicaid eligible or are uninsured.
c. Must have the approval of the Program Director to participate in the Rocking Chair Project.
d. Must complete the online Rocking Chair Project Application Form.
e. Must commit to local fundraising to cover the fixed cost (approximately $200/chair) of the purchase of glider rocking chairs.
f. Must agree to all procedures and policies as outlined on the RCP website.
10. What are the required steps for receiving and maintaining RCP member status?
New Applicants For The Rocking Chair Project: Required Steps:
1. Review orientation materials at www.rockingchairproject.org.
2. Obtain approval to participate from the Program Director.
3. Complete and submit online Application Form.(FORMS)
4. On approval, the program will receive a grant to cover the cost of chairs for the year.
5. Purchase approved chair(s) directly online HERE. Chose Amazon Prime for free shipping.
6. Receive and store chair(s) for this year’s visits.
7. Choose mothers to receive home visits and chairs.
8. Manage RCP home visits using procedures and forms provided on the RCP website.
9. Complete online Professional Evaluation Survey (FORMS) after visit.
10. Complete the short online End of the Year Report each June to be re-certified for the coming year.