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Hospitals can be a confusing and frightening place for children and adolescents. The Child Life/Child Development program is an integral part of UCLA Healthcare. It was established in recognition of the unique needs of pediatric patients and especially the critically and chronically ill. Certified Child Life Specialists collaborate with members of the medical, multidisciplinary team to promote optimum development and minimize the traumatic impact of diagnosis and hospitalization. Child Life staff seeks to ease the fear by familiarizing young children and adolescents and their families with the medical experience by utilizing a child/adolescent centered approach to address their social, emotional and developmental needs of each child and his/her family in a culturally sensitive manner.
The mission of the clinical social workers in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program is to support our families emotionally and practically with the concerns they experience when having a child who is ill. At the time of diagnosis or during the course of treatment, many parents experience strong feelings of anxiety, confusion, and sadness and may feel overwhelmed. We understand these reactions and know how to help. We can provide support services with a focus on helping the family adjust to the impact that illness and hospitalization has on the entire family. Social workers are integral members of the inpatient and outpatient medical teams and work with patients and their families from initial diagnosis through long-term follow-up to help maintain their emotional well-being. Some of the services they provide include:
School Re-integration Program
All children who go through cancer and brain tumor treatments, as well as children with blood disorders, are followed by a school re-integration specialist. This specialist works directly with each patient from the point of initial diagnosis, through the course of treatment and at follow up, many years after completion of treatment. The school re-integration specialist arranges for children to have home schooling while going through treatment, and counsels parents on expectations for their child’s success. Many of these children miss 1-2 years of regular schooling, so it is imperative that they continue their schooling with a home school teacher in order to keep up with their classmates. We monitor the child's progress closely to ensure a smooth and successful re-integration when the time comes for them to return to school. Upon re-integration, the school re-integration specialist works closely with the schools in arranging appropriate accommodations that meet the child’s medical needs. Often, the disease itself, or the treatments used to fight their disease, may have late effects on cognitive and academic functioning and subsequent learning disorders. Children who are experiencing difficulties are identified by the school re-integration specialist and referred to a neuropsychologist for a full neuro-developmental evaluation to determine the need for special services. If we are unable to attain a neuropsychological provider, we request the school district to test current level of academic functioning and choose appropriate placements that address their identified needs. We continue to monitor each child’s school progress at follow-up visits, continuing service throughout their school career.
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