PPC SERIES Ensuring Psychosocial Wellness in School and the Community for the Seriously Ill Child

School is often described as the work of a child. That work is often significantly interrupted by serious or life-limiting illness, hospitalizations and treatments. Despite the inability to maintain an on-going school focus, many seriously ill children continue to want and need opportunities for continued growth and development. Cognitive, emotional, psychological and socialdevelopment continues to be at the core of the child’s self-identity and requires cultivation and attention.

Research suggests poor outcomes for some adults who were children with serious or life-limiting health conditions. When compared to peers or siblings, those discrepancies have been suggested in a wide-range of areas including high school graduation, post-secondary education, employment rates and ability to obtain health insurance, interactions with peers in friendship and romantic encounters, less frequent marriage, more frequent divorce, and becoming parents less often. These outcomes are not surprising when considering the depth and breadth of learning that occurs in preschool through high school, and how that knowledge may be impacted with excessive time away from school and other activities.

This webinar will focus on specific ways to help children continue to succeed in school, activities and the community despite a serious illness. Strategies for collaboration with school administrators, teachers, coaches, activity directors, clergy and others will be highlighted with a goal of maintaining the youngster’s well-being throughout their journey. For some, this approach will enhance the transition into successful adulthood and, for others, the ability to be evaluated alongside their siblings and peers may add a quality to life that cannot be achieved otherwise.

1. Identify primary areas of development that may be impacted for children with serious or life-limiting health conditions enabling consideration when developing palliative care supports for school age children.
2. Apply knowledge regarding Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act plans (504 plans) and employ strategies to request the appropriate school plan for each child.
3. Create effective collaborative partnerships with school and community persons who are interacting with and influencing the quality of life of pediatric palliative patients, resulting in those persons as part of the core pediatric palliative care team.

About the Presenter:
Kathy Davis, PhD, MSEd, is a Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Kansas Hospital System (TUKHS). She has 45 years of experience working with young people with chronic and life-limiting illnesses in the areas of education, child life, palliative care and ethics. Dr. Davis provides nonpharmacologic pain management, chronic illness management, education and instruction in coping strategies, palliative care and end-of-life support and ethics consultation to hospitalized and outpatient youngsters, their families, schools and communities. She practices comprehensive pediatric palliative care that extends beyond the hospital or healthcare setting and reaches out to address the child’s various natural environments of school, worship, athletics, activities, friendships and family. In addition, Dr. Davis supports women expecting babies with potentially life-limiting birth anomalies and their family members; counsels children whose parent or close loved one is nearing end-of-life at TUKHS; and provides bereavement follow-up after a death involving or affecting an infant or child.