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It is important for the child undergoing treatment to return to school as soon as medically cleared as school offers a sense of normalcy “back to routine life,” a sense of purpose/achievement, a time to transform fear to hope for the future, and allows time to socialize with peers. Often, school work can be a distraction from treatment or painful procedures. However, the transition back into the school setting is not an easy one. Children can feel anxious anticipating the unknowns, such as how their peers and teachers will treatment them and whether they will be successful in their academics. Additionally, parents too experience apprehension about their child’s return. NCCF has designed several transitional programs to support students and their parents to help overcome any anxiety they may have, including Lean On Me: Kidz Supporting Kidz, Back to School in Style, and School Re-Entry.  The Brett Torino Foundation Education Services (a program of NCCF and named for its donor) provides:

Lean On Me: Kidz Supporting Kidz
NCCF has created a puppet show, where near life-size puppets are manipulated by volunteers and perform a kid friendly show to educate peers and school staff on the disabilities, differences, short-term and long-term side effects of childhood cancers, sickle cell, hemophilia, and immunological disorders. Key topic points are addressed, including facts about diagnosis and treatment (i.e. hair loss, loss of limb, and physical changes to the body) and the importance in the acceptance of differences and anti-bullying.  The puppets help to build a sensitive and understanding school environment for chronically-ill children to return to. Each performance is attended by a NCCF education staff member and a member of the child’s medical team to ensure that classmates/peers and school staff learn facts and sensitivity intended to benefit them for the rest of their lives in the understanding and appreciation of differences in people with whom they come in contact.

Back To School In Style
Students who have been out of the school setting for 6 months or more can celebrate their success in returning to school by receiving a backpack, school supplies, a gift card for new clothes, and a special lunch.

School Re-Entry
The NCCF education staff helps prepare students to return to their traditional classroom setting and work to ensure that both teachers and classmates have an understanding of the child’s situation thereby creating a positive and welcoming environment. NCCF’s Educational Director and full time teacher is your child’s lead liaison, NCCF’s licensed clinical social worker, your child’s nurse and doctor ALL work with teachers, school nurses, counselors, social workers, psychologists and other staff members in a collaborative effort to facilitate the child’s return to the classroom. The School Re-entry Team will travel to the school where presentations are arranged for the classroom and faculty to pave the way for the child to return to school.

The School Re-entry Program offers an opportunity for your child’s classmates and teachers to learn basic and important information regarding their diagnosis and treatment plan. A school re-entry also provides an opportunity for a healthcare professional to clarify misconceptions, alleviate fears, and disqualify myths.

NCCF begins, with the parents permission, by establishing open communication with school personnel:

  • Providing school personnel with specific information regarding the child’s diagnosis, treatment and individual needs
  • Scheduling child, parent and school consultation with the medical team prior to the child’s return
  • Working together with school personnel to prepare and facilitate the child’s return
  • Promoting normal psycho-social development and optimizing the child’s rehabilitative potential
  • Coordinating tutoring and other educational services
  • Coordinating neuropsychological evaluations as needed

The appropriate time for child to return to school depends on the child’s:

  • Strength and physical capabilities
  • Degree of pain and/or fatigue
  • Degree of immune suppressant
  • Type, frequency and duration of therapy
  • Readiness and/or anxiety level

Educating classmates:

  • Provides entertaining and educational presentations
  • Establishes support and understanding
  • Encourages classmate participation and role play
  • Dispels myths and teasing
  • Instructs as to handle teasing and misconceptions
  • Helps identify a “safe person” or buddy

School faculty presentations:

  • Review psychosocial concerns (fear, teasing, changes in body image, hair loss, social adjustment, etc.)
  • Review medical concerns (fatigue, exposure to infections, central lines, physical activity and treatment protocols)