When Children are Seriously Ill or Grieving

Since 1983, Avow has cared for and supported children and families affected by serious and terminal illness, grief and loss.

With philanthropic assistance from the community, Avow has increased its children’s medical and bereavement programs to help even more families through hospice, palliative care and grief support services.

Avow is a Partner Provider for Partners in Care: Together for Kids (PIC-TIF), a program sponsored by the Agency for Health Care Administration and Department of Health(Children’s Medical Services Network). As a designated service provider, Avow provides palliative care to children enrolled in the CMS Network who are coping with potentially life-limiting conditions. Avow services are focused on meeting the social and emotional needs of both the child and their family, and include:

  • Spiritual care
  • Complementary therapies• Palliative nursing consultations
  • Counseling
  • Respite care

Children in the PIC-TFK program are not considered hospice patients and may receive concurrent curative care.

Avow provides hospice care to terminally ill children, sometimes over many months or years. Children diagnosed with a terminal illness are cared for by dedicated, specially trained team of nurses, social workers, physicians, hospice aides,chaplains and volunteers. Services focus on relieving pain and symptoms in the child using traditional medical treatments as well as complementary therapies such as Reiki energy treatments, music therapy and massage therapy. A priority is addressing the social and emotional needs of the nuclear family as well as others in the circle of support. Initial and ongoing grief and bereavement support continues for the family for the duration of their need.

For children not ready for hospice, there’s Avow pediatric palliative care. Avow is currently fundraising to expand the palliative care program to include additional services for children. This unique program (independent from PIC-TFK)will allow Avow to provide the comprehensive interdisciplinary approach used in pediatric hospice care to children who have a chronic or serious illness but have not yet reached the life limiting six month prognosis required for hospice care.

Grieving children benefit from Avows bereavement support program. The experienced and specialty trained counselors offer support for children who are grieving the loss of a parent, sibling, friend or relative through illness, accident, divorce/estrangement, suicide or homicide. Services are offered free of charge and include:

  • Children’s grief workshops held in Collier County schools(public and private) during the school day for children of similar ages and similar losses.
  • School assistance during times of crisis (for example, the death of a student or teacher).
  • Defusing sessions with children exposed to a traumatic event.
  • Consultations with parents to help them support their child in age-appropriate ways.
  • Individual support for children anticipating a loss through illness and death, or when a group is not currently available for a bereaved child.
  • Children’s grief camps – Grief camps at Avow provide a safe and caring atmosphere for children to engage in fun and therapeutic activities alongside peers who share similar loss experiences. Day and overnight camps are offered at several times and locations each year.

Avow’s new Children’s Bereavement Center has opened. The beautiful Lyon Center for palliative, hospice and bereavement care, opened its doors in January of this year and is home to Collier County’s first dedicated children’s bereavement center.

  • The center includes areas for play therapy, grief and anger management, one-on-one counseling sessions and specialty group sessions.
  • Parents/guardians will also be able to participate in support groups that meet during the same time their child or teen is attending a group function.

Plans for additional programming are moving forward since the number of new staff members have joined this dynamic child focused team. There is always room for more area professionals who wish to volunteer their time in support of the centers work. If you are that special person give Avow a call, they would love to speak with you.

For more information about Avow’s programs for children and adults, call 239.261.4404 or visit www.avowcares.org.

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