Each year a number of Vermont families learn their child has a serious lifethreatening illness. Our Pediatric Palliative Care program has supports to help children who are living with serious illness.
The Pediatric Palliative Care program is part of Children with Special Health Needs, and helps make sure there is a high quality of care for Vermont children living with complex medical needs.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care provides an added layer of support for children and adolescents living with serious illness. It helps make sure that your goals as a family are at the heart of your child’s care. Palliative care can help to ease pain and other upsetting symptoms from a condition or treatment at any age and any stage of illness, and can be offered along with other treatments your child is receiving.
To be eligible, a child must:
- Be under age 21
- Have active Vermont Medicaid
- Be living with a serious life-limiting or life-threatening illness or condition
The Pediatric Palliative Care program is made up of five main services available to a child and family:
- Care Coordination – Someone to help make, and put into place, a family-centered care plan
- Family/Caregiver Training – Training to family members and caregivers about how to provide complex care
- Expressive Therapies – Certified art, music, play, dance/movement or child life specialist to help the child and family members creatively express themselves
- Skilled Respite – Short term relief for caregiver relatives provided by a nurse based on medical need
- Family Grief Support/Bereavement Counseling – Counseling for the family to help during the child’s life and for up to six months in the event the child passes away
Anyone in the child’s circle of support can request the Pediatric Palliative Care Program for a child. Health care providers (like doctors or nurse practitioners), however, make the referral.
Medical providers can make referrals at any time. It is best, though, that the provider makes the referral around the time of diagnosis. That way, supports are available early as the family learns about new needs and feelings they may have.
Pediatric Palliative Care Program services are provided by specially-trained teams at Medicaid-contracted home health agencies and Visiting Nurse Associations around the state. These teams may include nurses, social workers and therapists.
Families work with the home health agencies and Visiting Nurse Associations to set up and access the supports that best meet their child’s needs. As their needs change, their care plan, and the supports they choose, can change too.
Pediatric Palliative Care Program
Children with Special Health Needs
Vermont Department of Health
108 Cherry Street
Burlington, VT 05401