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 heightened anxiety coupled with 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 stressed: “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 ameliorative intervention strategy involves delivering a wide variety of basic needs services at no charge to families with critically ill children, 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 3,785 families and their critically ill children. In 2018, There With Care worked with 575 families referred by hospital social workers for an average of 100 days, at an average cost of $4,022 per family (before their child’s diagnosis, 87% of the families served in 2018 were already experiencing financial distress). This year There With Care anticipates to serve 650 families, continuing the upward trend in its capacity to support more families and children facing a life-threatening medical crisis every year. To scale up the number of families it can serve each year, the organization continues to focus on increasing its volunteer and donor bases, while simultaneously increasing its operational efficiency. In 2019, There With Care is formulating several strategic opportunities to expand into the mental health field hoping to provide relevant, caring support to families throughout Colorado whose children are diagnosed with a life-threatening mental illness.