by Rebecca Dean, Easterseals Social Worker
In addition to the emotional and social impacts of having a child who’s considered medically fragile, parents are often tasked with finding a Private Duty Nurse or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to provide care during the day. Families across the nation struggle to receive in-home nursing care that fits their needs and expectations. Parents who hire nurses during the day while they attend work, also often find themselves coming home from work to provide continuous care to their child.
What if a program existed where parents could be hired as their child’s care provider? What if parents could bring their level of passion and attention to caring for their child’s medical needs full time as a CNA? Well, what if we told you that a program like this already exists! The only catch… it only exists today in one state.
In Colorado, they’ve developed a solution for these concerns, known as the Family CNA Program. This is a program where family members can receive free training to become a CNA for their child. The family member is then hired by a home health agency, and can be paid to take on the tasks that would normally be performed by a nurse that has been hired! When it is determined that a child needs individual nursing care, parents are given the choice to either hire a nurse or become a CNA themselves. The importance of choice in these situations is crucial and provides the families with increased self-determination.
There are many benefits to this program including: ensuring that the child is receiving the highest level of care continuously, parents not having to juggle a job while managing their child’s care, decreased exposure to viral diseases, and evidence showing a decrease in pediatric hospitalizations rates which leads to an overall reduction of healthcare costs. Qualifying parents in Colorado who are a part of this program, can receive full medical coverage for the entire family, as well as other benefits.
While this isn’t a program available to parents in Pennsylvania at the moment, the need for it still exists. The Unforgotten Families is an advocacy group that promotes the awareness and engagement around the challenges faced by medically fragile children and their families. Their mission is to advocate for a statewide Family CNA Program in Pennsylvania that will give parents the choice in either hiring a nurse, or being trained to become a CNA for their loved one.
If you’re interested in having this program started in PA, you can show your support by becoming an advocate! Share your voice of support by visiting: https://p2a.co/Kk5ylZb. You can select to receive emails and texts regarding the campaign, but it is optional. Becoming an advocate is similar to signing a petition; you are not held to any obligations. Instead, it curates a list based on zip codes, so that The Unforgotten Families is able to make a case to local legislators. For example, if 1,000 people from Philadelphia sign up to become an advocate, it demonstrates to local Philadelphia and Pennsylvania legislators that there is an interest and need for this program in these areas.
To learn more about the program, or becoming an advocate for The Unforgotten Families, please visit their website at http://www.theunforgottenfamilies.com