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Advice to Parents of Medically Fragile Children: Establish a Plan for Your Child with C.A.R.E (create, advocate, reinforce and educate)

The Children's Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center's day care for medically fragile children, Child's Way®, encourages families to establish a plan for their medically fragile child, using C.A.R.E.

Families should create a plan for their medically fragile child's care and treatment. Set realistic goals as a family, while working closely with the child's therapists, physicians and educators, to achieve the best outcomes. Create an outlined, clearly defined plan, with measurable goals. At Child's Way, our multidisciplinary team creates a developmentally appropriate environment, where children can learn and grow.

Advocate for your medically fragile child. This can be done by obtaining physician prescribed therapies to ensure consistent physical, occupational and speech-language therapies. At Child's Way, children receive therapies through collaboration with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Families can also track their child's development by accessing community services that provide evaluations, such as the Alliance for Infants & Toddlers. Create an open dialogue of expectations between you and your child's caregivers, to ensure your family's plan of care is working towards the realistic goals you have set.

Stay vigilant with continuing caregivers' recommendations. Building consistency between what therapists are doing and what is being implemented at home is important to reinforce positive strategies and not confuse the child. Children thrive on routine and structure. Most importantly, remember that no plan is going to work over night, stay patient and positive, focus on your child, and always stick to the plan.

Educate yourself and your child. Families should take time to ensure that their children are given the same educational foundation as typically developing children. Do simple things like talking about colors and letters and read to your child at least 20 minutes each day. At Child's Way, children participate in academic programming each morning with trained child care associates, where they sing, read stories and create craft projects.

Remember to educate yourself as well. Talk and network with other families, to help minimize stress and lessen the feelings of being alone. Become involved with community awareness events, groups and classes; utilize the many services available in the community.

To learn more about The Children's Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center or to see if Child's Way medical day care might be a good fit for your medically fragile child, visit www.childrenshomepgh.org, call (412) 441-4884, or email info@chomepgh.org.

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