Caring for a child with a medically fragile condition is a life changing event and comes with joys and struggles that few others are able to relate to. Whether a family is still in shock from the diagnosis or has adjusted into a new family routine, we understand the complex and emotional journey that they are traveling. Our goal is to provide support and encouragement in a cheerful and positive way and we are able to accomplish this through our sMiles 4 Families Program! This program was inspired by the love and kindness that Samantha’s family was shown by others throughout their journey with her. Our families are referred to our program by medical professionals, such as a Palliative Care Team and/or Pediatric Hospice Team, who provide specialized and complex medical care to the medically fragile child. One of the ways we provide support and encouragement to our families is by providing “Care Packages”. A typical care package contains:
- a professional in-home/in-hospital photo session package with Heather Johnston Photography (Heather is a nurse that has over 5 years of experience working with infants with varying medical needs),
- personalized and handmade blankets for each child in the family,
- personalized items and/or activity bags for the siblings based on their age, interests and hobbies,
- various other items depending on the circumstances of the child’s diagnosis and the family’s situation,
- and free Christian books, Bibles, and self-help resources for the parents to choose from if they are interested.
Some additional ways we are providing support to these families:
- HOPE Binders: We provide these binders, at no cost, to the medical team to hand out at the intake meetings with each family. These binders are given to help them adjust to living with a new diagnosis. This binder contains tips and suggestions that other families in similar situations have found practical and helpful.
- Kaitlyn’s Keepsake Memory Boxes: Some families choose to leave the hospital and take their child home near the end of their child’s life. Through our Kaitlyn’s Keepsakes outreach, we give these families end of life memory making boxes that provide these families the opportunity to make end of life memories with their child. These are provided at no cost to the families, hospice providers and medical teams. Kaitlyn’s boxes are currently being provided to over 6 hospital/hospice providers throughout Central and South East Texas.
- Angel Care Kits: Each kits contain soft, handmade washcloths, softly colored hand towels, bath wash, lotion, tissues and a keepsake envelope for a lock of hair. Immediately after a child passes away, a kit is give to the family so that they may give a final bath to their child. In a cold and sterile hospital, we strive to help make this intimate moment as caring and as dignified as possible. These are a gift and are provided at no cost to the hospitals, programs or families. Angel Care Kits are currently being provided to numerous hospitals/hospice providers throughout Central and South East Texas.
- Legacy Lanterns: These lanterns are given to a family following the loss of their child. The beautiful metal lanterns and candles serve as a reminder that their child’s legacy continues to shine brightly in the hearts of all who loved him or her. Families light their lanterns on anniversaries, birthdays and any day where the loss feel especially painful.
- Counseling: We provide financial help to families that wish to receive counseling or be involved in a grief group, whether it’s individual, couple or family counseling. We have this resource set up through My Healing Place in Austin.
Check back often to see how God will allow us to fulfill additional needs in the near future!