When a child becomes seriously ill, the initial and immediate focus becomes finding the appropriate medical care to make him or her better. Making sure a kid can remain a kid is just as important. Many children have difficulty socializing and keeping up with schoolwork after they become sick. In addition, schoolmates often do not know how to relate to a friend who is ill. Educational liaisons advocate for children at school meetings and educate the school community about childhood cancer and blood disorders. They facilitate home instruction and Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and make sure teachers, classmates and the school community understand childhood disease, so they can be as supportive as possible.
Some of our centers utilize a robot named VGo, which allows patients absent from school for an extended period to attend classes remotely. The robot's camera allows the patient to see the classroom on an iPad or computer and the teacher and classmates to see the patient on the robot's video screen. Maintaining that visual connection with classmates and teachers makes a patient feel less isolated and more like a regular kid.
To help children successfully return to school after being away while undergoing or recovering from treatment, our educational liaisons visit the child's classroom to assist in creating the most compassionate environment for the child's re-integration into school. During this visit, our specialists provide a presentation, based on age group, so that children can better understand their classmate's illness. For younger children, for example, we often use role-play with dolls. After the presentation, the educational liaison will leave age appropriate materials with the teacher for future needs, will be available via email or phone and can revisit the school if parents and/or teachers feel that doing so will make the patient more comfortable.