School Intervention Program

Once a school-aged patient is diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder, the effect on school attendance and performance becomes an issue that parents and patients must face. Treatment often causes frequent, sometimes lengthy hospitalizations, weekly doctor's appointments, monthly blood transfusions, and often confinement at home due to a suppressed immune system. This disruption in their academic attendance can be devastating to a student's cognitive, social, and emotional development.

The School Intervention Program (SIP) is an important part of our practice. It provides assistance and guidance for patients and parents who are often unfamiliar with available school services. When a school-aged patient is diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder, a member of our SIP team becomes involved to identify the school and any services already being provided. With the parent/guardian's permission, contact is then made with the school to coordinate a plan to help the patient continue their education.

In addition to the coordination of services, a school visit is offered to help administrators, teachers, school nurses, and counselors understand the medical and psychosocial needs of the patient and to establish communication between the school and the medical staff. The social worker and registered nurse visit the school or child care facility to explain the side effects of the treatment, why the student will be unable to attend school regularly, and to address any of the school administrators concerns regarding the student in the school setting. The SIP team offers school administrators suggestions for addressing questions or concerns of classmates and other parents. Classroom presentations are provided, as needed, to help classmates understand the treatment process and how they can help their classmate continue to feel a part of the class when at school and while home during times when it is not medically safe for them to attend school.

Another important part of our School Intervention Program involves neurocognitive testing. Children with cancer, blood disorders, and brain tumors sometimes experience neurological changes that my affect their abilities in many areas of functioning. Neurocognitive testing assesses for problems with learning, skills, memory, attention, language skills, visual motor abilities, mood and behavior, and is used to provide a comprehensive picture of how the child functions and learns. The results are used in the development of recommendations for appropriate educational accommodations, and the center's pediatric psychologist collaborates with the schools in this regard. The referrals for neurocognitive testing are coordinated by our School Intervention team and include the cooperation of the parents and the school. In many cases, a 504 Plan or Individual Education Plan is developed for the patient, and our intervention team members serve as advocates to see that the recommended accommodations are implemented.

Any member of the medical team can make a referral for you to the School Intervention Program, or parents can download the forms and bring them into the center.

School Release Form

Student Information Form

For more information regarding The Association of Hematology Oncology Education Specialists (APHOES) please click here.