When a child is diagnosed with a critical illness, the family becomes isolated, and often one parent must leave work to care for their sick child, leading to an unexpected loss of family income. At the same time, the family confronts the overwhelming new reality of increasing expenses, insurance co-pays, and outlays of time and money needed for repeatedly traveling to and from the hospital. With this confluence of reduced income and rising expenses, most families in a medical crisis experience severe financial distress. As Dr. Kira Bona’s study on the economic impact of cancer at DFCI and Boston Children’s hospital concluded: “The economic impact of pediatric advanced cancer on families is significant at all income levels, although poorer families suffer disproportionate losses. Development of ameliorative intervention strategies is warranted.” (2014, p. 594). There With Care’s intervention strategy involves delivering a wide variety of free basic needs services to these families, helping to reduce each family’s feelings of isolation while removing part of the financial burden they face.
Since its inception in 2005, There With Care has served 3,330 families and their critically ill children. In 2018, There With Care worked with 547 families referred by hospital social workers for an average of 100 days, at an average cost of $4,022 per family. This year, There With Care is projected to serve 600 families, continuing the upward trend in our organization’s capacity to support families and children facing a life-threatening medical crisis. As There With Care anticipates future needs, our fundamental goal remains on the steady development and refinement of our basic needs program services. We are also evaluating the possibility of expanding to Children’s Hospitals across the country, hoping to reach more families and provide relevant, caring support during their time of need.