Families are referred from a variety of sources, including medical teams, school counselors, and word of mouth. School counselors and teachers are a consistent source of referrals because they are often the first people outside the family to associate a child’s behavioral changes with a parent’s serious illness. The organization has employed a full-time outreach director, also a Certified Child Life Specialist, to further promote the organization’s services and to establish connections within the community. As a result of these efforts, Wonder & Worries is a point of referral through many medical systems in Central Texas.
It is critical that parents are aware of child life and counseling services from the time of diagnosis because the sooner they are given the tools to communicate about their health condition and cope with the effects on the entire family, the better prepared the family will be for any future stressors. Upon referral to Wonders & Worries, a thorough intake is completed with the parent to determine the best support services for the children and family. Based on that assessment, children may participate in structured, six-week support groups (ages 5-18) or individual sessions (ages 2-18). The six-week sessions are designed to build trust; educate about the specific illness, treatment, and side effects; and facilitate the expression of feelings and coping skills.