Virginia budget funds new position at UVA Children’s Hospital

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 10:52 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For the first time, support for children with cancer is being included in Virginia’s budget.

The new budget will go into effect July 1.

“The funding is going to provide a full-time dedicated educational support navigator for each of the five treatment centers,” Amy Godkin with ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Five pediatric cancer treatment centers, including the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, are now hiring for an educational support navigator.

“Our patients miss so many school days during treatment, and two-thirds of our pediatric cancer survivors will have late effects from treatment that will impact their ability to learn, grow, and thrive,” Godkin said.

There are currently 4,000 patients and cancer survivors in the Virginia school system.

”These kinds of resources enable the child to be minimally impacted by their cancer beyond just having to receive their care. We don’t want for a child who has a cancer to have their life disrupted any more than it needs to be,” Doctor Michael Engel with UVA Children’s Hospital said.

Children with cancer miss about 43 days of school the first year of a diagnosis.

“The nature of the therapy that they have to receive and the unpredictability that can sometimes occur around getting sick in the context of their therapy and needing to be perhaps admitted to the hospital,” Dr. Engel said.

The navigator will work with the child as they transition to in-person learning

“It’s those interface points - getting back to their communities, getting back with their friends, getting back with their teachers - educating their teachers about what it means to have a child with a cancer actively being treated,” Engel said.

The hospitals would not have the funds for this without the new state budget.

“There’s $20 million in the state budget currently for cancer, but there was none of it designated for kids. And so, while we didn’t want to take away from that important work, we are so glad that the state has expanded funding to include children, as well,” Godkin said.

The hospitals are hoping to hire the navigators by the time school starts in fall 2022.

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