Minnesota SID Center offers support, resources for families


As a nonprofit hospital, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota provides community benefit services each year to address some of the most pressing health concerns in our community.

The death of a child is devastating for families and communities. The survivors’ grief following a sudden death can be even more intense and prolonged. Families experiencing this sort of loss need support. That’s why Children’s partners with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to run the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death (SID) Center. The SID Center is a statewide program that provides information, counseling and support to anyone who has experienced a sudden infant death from any cause.

The center was founded in 1976, and the director Kathleen Fernbach, BSN, RN, PHN, has been there since the beginning. Whenever a sudden, unexpected death of a child less than two years of age occurs in the state, Kathleen receives the call. Upon being notified of a death, staff reaches out to the family and works with local public health agencies to ensure that a nurse visits with the family at home and connects them with needed support services. From there, families receive supportive follow up visits throughout the year. The center also contacts the family’s primary care doctor to offer consultation on care during this difficult time. In 2011 the center received 79 referrals and provided services to approximately 115 families.

In addition to reaching out to families who have lost a child, the staff at the SID Center develops and distributes informational materials about how to reduce the risk of SIDS by creating a safe sleep environment for baby. In 2011, the center distributed 30,000 pieces of educational materials to newborn nursery staff, childcare providers, childcare licensing and referral agencies, public health nurses and the community at large.

The SID Center staff has played an important role in advancing statewide efforts to reduce unexpected infant deaths. . Through development and promotion of the “Safe and Asleep” campaign in Minnesota, great strides have been made in helping to reduce both cases of SIDS and other causes of sleep related infant deaths. Center staff also participates in infant mortality reduction work through the Minnesota Department of Health, which identifies the medical, social and environmental factors associated with infant deaths. Recently staff has focused on working to decrease deaths in licensed child care, addressing racial disparities in infant mortality and improving bereavement support by partnering with community and tribal health agencies.

Reducing the risk of SIDS

To learn more about how you can reduce the risk of SIDS, visit the Minnesota SID Center webpage and review these resources:

Learn more about community benefit at Children’s

At Children’s we’re continuously working to make sure that we provide excellent care to the kids we treat, and that we give back to our community by providing additional health programs and services. Find out more about the community benefits we provide.