Candlelighters is excited to announce a “new” program – the Parent Mentorship Program. We say “new” in quotes, because the idea for this program has been in development for nearly 4 years! It began with the recognition that there is an unmet need of social-emotional support for parents and caregivers of children facing pediatric cancer throughout Oregon and SW Washington. We heard – and hear – frequently from hospital care teams that parents/caregivers with newly diagnosed children are desperate for connection and ask for help to meet other parents who have experienced a similar diagnosis. But due to privacy regulations (HIPAA) regulations, the hospital care teams are not able to facilitate direct parent-to-parent connection. We began exploring ways to fill this gap in partnership with the hospitals we work with.
The mission of the parent pilot mentorship program is to provide Candlelighters parents with unique understanding, encouragement, and support that only another parent who has walked a similar path can provide.
Mentors are Candlelighters parents who would like to give back by providing peer support to parents of newly diagnosed children. They also meet criteria around the length of time from their own child’s treatment, and are provided training that we developed with the help of the Hospitals.
Right now, parents who are being mentored are hand-selected for the pilot program by the clinical staff and the psychosocial team at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Randall Children’s Hospital. Candlelighters Programs staff then matches the mentor with the mentee, and makes the introduction, with scheduled check-ins throughout the mentorship
We are so excited to be able to begin this “pilot” or test version of the program. Our longer-term goal is to provide an expanded, sustainable, referral-based parent peer support program in collaboration with our partner hospitals. We’re also grateful for a grant from the Knight Cancer Institute to fund the program.