At Children’s Hospital, social workers are an integral part of how we deliver family-centered care. As key members of a patient’s care team, social workers connect families to services within CHOP and their local communities to help ease issues that often are part of dealing with illness or injury.
Social workers span the entire spectrum of care. There are social workers in the Harriet and Ronald Lassin Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit supporting families of CHOP’s youngest patients. At the other end of the age range, there are social workers who help teens and young adults and their families make the transition into the adult world.
Some social workers are assigned to a particular inpatient unit. Others care for children with a particular condition or disease. Others work out of one of the Specialty Care Centers in the CHOP Care Network or the Emergency Department.
"Having a sick child causes distress, anxiety and disruption to the entire family," says Stephanie Fooks-Parker, MSW. "As social workers, we are there to help you manage these and other stressors that will affect your family functioning."
CHOP was one of the first children’s hospitals in the country to recognize the important role social workers can play in restoring a child to health. More than 100 years ago, the Hospital hired its first social worker to help families learn to maintain sanitary conditions to keep their children healthy, find charity resources for families and coordinate medical resources.
From that first social worker in 1912, CHOP’s Social Work Department has grown to include more than 90 master’s-trained professionals. They are skilled at intervening in crisis situations, navigating complex care coordination needs, connecting patients and families to helpful counseling and, when necessary, helping families through bereavement. They can partner with you to advocate for your child with schools, government agencies, community organizations and insurance companies.
To best help your family, a social worker will ask a series of questions to learn what type of support you may already have in place, how you and your child are handling the illness or condition, whether your home environment can accommodate any special needs your child may have, and other things.
"Social workers are well trained to walk with you on this journey," Fooks-Parker says. "We’ll help you, your child and family figure out healthy ways to cope with whatever challenges come with the medical situation. And then we’ll provide the practical and emotional support you need to cope."