Resources for Families

At Children’s National, we believe that comprehensive care for children also includes support for their families. We do everything possible to take care of your family’s emotional, spiritual, and logistical needs. 

Children’s National Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders: Resources for Families

We offer a range of special services and programs designed to help children and their families cope while living with pediatric cancer. We strive to help families to resume some normalcy and predictability in their lives.
Resources to help your child and your family have a positive care experience:

  • Child Life Specialists
  • Oncology supportive care
  • Pediatric Advanced Needs Assessment and Care Team (PANDA)
  • Social workers 

Resources to meet your family’s emotional and logistical needs:

  • Creative and therapeutic arts services
  • Tracy’s Kids Art Therapy Program
  • Music Therapy Program
  • Education support
  • Pastoral care
  • Pediatric oncology online community
  • Psychology
  • Ronald McDonald Family Room®
  • Adolescent/Young Adult Patient Navigator and activity room

Child Life Specialists

At Children’s National, our Child Life Specialists create a positive experience for families during their child’s outpatient visit or hospital stay. Our certified Child Life Specialists are specially trained to help children, adolescents, and families understand and cope with illness, treatment, and hospitalization.

Learn more about our child life specialists or contact us at 202-476-3070.

Creative and therapeutic arts services

We combine the healing power of art, music, dance, and literature with other care services to provide symptom relief, ease anxiety, and enhance relationships. From art therapy to live performances, we provide engaging entertainment to children in common areas, at the bedside, and in waiting rooms.

Learn more about our Creative and Therapeutic Arts Services program.

Tracy’s Kids Art Therapy Program

Tracy’s Kids is an art therapy program just for oncology patients. We help kids “just be kids,” by offering art as a way for patients and families to express and distract themselves. Services are available to children all ages and their families in the Art Room of our outpatient clinic and at the bedside.

Music Therapy Program

Our board-certified music therapist uses music, movement, play, songwriting, and singing to help children and families thrive during treatment. Services are available at the bedside and in clinic to help distract from discomfort, help your child work through difficult experiences, and provide families with a fun way to be together in the hospital.

Education specialist

Together with parents, teachers, and school administrators, our Education Specialist helps keep our patients from falling behind in their schoolwork. If your child is going to be out of school for an extended period of time, your medical provider or social worker may provide a referral to the Education Specialist, who will work with your child’s school to develop a plan for ongoing educational support. Volunteer teachers also provide assistance and instruction in our new classroom space and at the bedside.

Oncology Supportive Care

Our supportive care initiatives are focused on improving comfort and quality of life for patients and their families.

These efforts include:

  • Gathering feedback from your child in support of research on the side effects of treatment
  • Using non-traditional treatment methods, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture
  • Providing personalized education and support to ensure your family has a positive experience with our program

Learn more about our Oncology Supportive Care program.

Pastoral care

Our clinically trained chaplains are available to children and families around the clock. Offering support, ritual, and consultation, we help you access spiritual strength and find a sense of peace. A Spanish-speaking chaplain is available on a limited basis (20 hours a week).

Learn more about Pastoral Care at Children’s National. You can also contact Pastoral Care directly by calling: 202-476-3321.

Pediatric Advanced NeeDs Assessment and Care Team (PANDA)

PANDA tends to children under the care of any inpatient service at Children’s National. Our goal is simple: to prevent, reduce, and soothe symptoms for children in the advanced stages of an illness (palliative care). We offer pain management, support, and advocacy services to enhance your child’s quality of life.

Learn more about the Pediatric Advanced NeeDs Assessment and Care Team (PANDA). You can also contact PANDA directly by calling 202-476-4256.

Pediatric Oncology Online Community

Children’s National Pediatric Oncology Online is a private community intended for patients, families, and friends to share, connect, and support each other.

  • New Member Sign Up: New member sign-up for Pediatric Oncology Online Community
  • Member Referral: Fill out the Pediatric Oncology Online Community Membership Referral.


Our psychology team is available if you and your child would like help coping with the challenges of living with a chronic illness. The dedicated psychology team for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is led by two licensed clinical psychologists who have experience working with children and adolescents dealing with medical issues. Services may involve meeting with a psychologist during regular clinic visits or during inpatient hospital stays. The team also offers weekly outpatient therapy and brief congnnitive testing. Common problems addressed in treatment include:

  • Anxiety or fears about needles or other medical procedures
  • Depressive symptoms or sadness
  • Difficulty coping with pain
  • Problems getting along with friends or talking about illness
  • Tantrums and other behavioral problems
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble swallowing pills or refusal to take medicine

Ronald McDonald Family Room®

Only steps from your child’s bedside, we offer you and your family a place of quiet respite. Here, you can have a snack or a cup of coffee, check email, read, or just relax. The Ronald McDonald Family Room® just underwent a major renovation to include a washer and dryer, full-sized kitchen, computers with Wi-Fi, and more.

Learn more about the Ronald McDonald Family Room®. You can contact the Ronald McDonald Family Room® Coordinator by calling 202-476-4205.

Social workers

Each of our cancer programs has its own dedicated social worker. These social workers offer a breadth of knowledge about pediatric cancer conditions and the treatments we offer.

They join you and your family in treatment discussions to help you understand what’s happening with your child and communicate your preferences to the clinical team. Our social workers also coordinate any additional support resources you may need.

Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA) Patient Navigator and Activity Room

Because we are devoted to caring for children, we recognize that children of different ages have different needs and enjoy different activities. This is why our team includes a dedicated AYA Patient Navigator, who provides services, resources, and activities to promote the quality of life of adolescents and young adult patients.

The Navigator creates a safe space for AYA patients in the dedicated, inpatient Teen Room, coordinates on- and offsite activities, and connects patients with one another as well as with adolescent and young adult survivors.