Unique Program Provides Quality Child Care to Medically Fragile Children

March 17, 2004
Women Legislators of Maryland honor area's only child care program for children needing daily nursing care

Baltimore - Finding quality childcare is never easy, but for parents of children with complex medical needs, the challenge can seem insurmountable. For many of these parents, leaving the work force is not an option. They need income and health care benefits to help offset the costs associated with caring for a child with a disability.

The Baltimore area's only child care facility designed for medically fragile children, World of Care enables parents of children with special needs to return to work - and provides a developmentally stimulating environment for children who might otherwise spend their days home alone with a parent or nurse.

In recognition of the services it provides to these underserved families, World of Care recently received the 2003 Child Care Challenge Award from the Women Legislators of Maryland, which will be presented at the Maryland Women's Hall of Family induction ceremony at 5 p.m. March 23 in the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis. The group voted unanimously to honor the program, operated by PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs, an affiliate of Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Given annually since 1988, the Child Care Challenge Award recognizes businesses and organizations that have developed innovative solutions to child care or committed resources to designing a program for children of working parents.

"I am honored to have been able to nominate PACT's World of Care childcare center for the 2003 Child Care Challenge Award. This organization ably tends to the needs of medically fragile pre-schoolers and their families, providing a loving atmosphere that fosters these children's emotional and physical growth," says State Sen. Delores Kelley. PACT is located in Sen. Kelley's district.

World of Care offers childcare for children 6 weeks to five years of age with a wide range of medical concerns including cardiac and respiratory conditions, genetic disorders, cerebral palsy, feeding disorders, diabetes, seizures and cancer. Some parents drive more than an hour from their homes to the center each day to enroll their children at World of Care, the only program in the Baltimore area that can meet their specialized needs.

Each child in the program receives a daily nursing assessment, and nurses are present throughout the day to provide tracheotomy care, nebulizer treatments, insertion and monitoring of feeding tubes and other assistance. The center maintains a 1:3 staff to child ratio, and all of the staff receive ongoing training in the medical conditions of the children they serve and how those conditions affect the children's development.

"We're very honored to receive this award from the Women Legislators of Maryland, who have been strong advocates for developing a high quality child care system in this state," says PACT Director Audrey Leviton. "We hope that this award will increase awareness of the availability of these services for children and their families."

In addition to the services offered through World of Care, PACT also provides occupational, physical and speech-language therapy, a parenting program for mothers and fathers who are cognitively limited and a therapeutic nursery for children living in homeless shelters. Founded in 1981, PACT has consistently passed the rigorous review process required for membership in the United Way network of agencies. PACT has also passed the extensive review process required for funding by the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Office of Genetics and Children with Special Health Care Needs. PACT became an affiliate of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in 1998.

Kennedy Krieger Institute is dedicated to helping children and adolescents with disabilities resulting from disorders of the brain achieve their potential and participate as fully as possible in family, community and school life. For more information about PACT and other Kennedy Krieger Institute programs, visit www.kennedykrieger.org.

Media Inquiries:

Allison Loritz, (443) 923-7330
Julie Lincoln, (443) 923-7334