When a child has a critical illness, life can become anything but normal. Treatments, hospital stays and doctors’ appointments can be stressful all on their own. The thought of a child falling behind in school doesn’t need to be added stress for families.
At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, our Patient Academic Services team connects hospitalized students to the normalcy of school and learning. By working directly with district teachers to create seamless instruction, students receive lessons at their academic level and are encouraged to grow so they can keep up with their classmates.
“We want to make learning happen while our students are in treatment,” explains Alicia Riggs, patient academics coordinator. “Sometimes it is driven by work from their school and sometimes it is driven by the interest of the patient.”
For the 2017-18 school year, we have seven certified teachers and one teachers’ aide to support students from pre-kindergarten to college. Five of these teachers have an area of special focus such as hematology/oncology, neurology, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, outpatient care and pre-k.
Our teachers work year-round, five days a week to support the needs of students. During the course of a year, one full-time teacher can work with about 400 students. The team not only keeps inpatients academically engaged, but also siblings and patients who already have completed treatment.
After-school tutoring is available for patients who have completed treatment or are in the midst of treatment. Educational services also will be available for patients staying at the Ronald McDonald Houses on the main hospital campus in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“The dedication, patience and empathy shown by our teachers allows patients and their families the opportunity to successfully continue on their educational journey,” Riggs adds.
The Patient Academic Services team encourages all families to become advocates for their child’s education and is available to assist patient families in gathering information about learning plans. These plans include:
The Individualized Education Program (IEP): A student with an IEP may receive different educational services in a special or regular educational setting, depending on need. IEP programs are delivered and monitored by additional school support staff and are part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004).
504 Plans: These plans aim for students to learn in regular classroom settings with the help of any services, accommodations or educational aids they may need.
Patient Academic Services at Johns Hopkins All Children’s is the only one of its kind at a free standing children’s hospital in Florida and is supported through a combination of state and private funding, including a gift from Suncoast Credit Union.
Visit our Patient Academic Services page for more on our program.