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Pediatric Oncology Social Work

The role of the pediatric oncology social worker is to help patients, families, and caregivers deal with the experience of facing cancer. Our licensed clinical social workers are educated and skilled to assist with the psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual issues that often arise when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Social Workers help:

  • Children and their families cope from the moment of diagnosis through to the end of treatment, whether survivorship or palliative care.
  • Families adjust to the diagnosis and the changes created in how they live their lives.
  • Family members by providing emotional support and counseling.
  • Patients and families maintain a ‘new normal’ way of living.
  • Families navigate the medical system, helping to bridge connections between the family and the medical team.
  • Identify resources (emotional, supportive, and/or financial).
  • School-aged patients remain connected with the school to decrease the impact of treatment on their social, emotional, and academic development.
  • Patients return to school successfully, when they are ready to return.
  • Families and children by advocating for their needs within the hospital and community setting.

If you think you might want help in any of these areas, tell your doctor or nurse that you would like to meet with a pediatric oncology social worker.

Certified Child Life Specialists

The Child Life Program was established to help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety of hospitalization. Child Life Specialists at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital are certified professionals who work in partnership with families, doctors, nurses, and other caregivers to meet the unique emotional and developmental needs of children and families. These services are available in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. You can request a consultation by calling (352) 594-6470 or asking your medical team for a referral.

UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Child Life Specialists (CCLS):

  • Provide age-appropriate play and activities to promote coping, expression of feelings, and adjustment to the healthcare setting.
  • Prepare, educate, and support children undergoing medical procedures and treatments to help them understand what to expect, clear up any misconceptions, and build healthy coping skills.
  • Provide support and distraction for patients during medical procedures.
  • Provide non-threatening, age-appropriate explanations, and preparations.
  • Help children understand diagnosis or illness.
  • Promote normal growth and development.
  • Offer legacy building and memory making to help children cope with grief.
  • Develop supportive relationships with patients and families and promote family-centered care.


Adolescent & Young Adult Support

Young male patient playing a board game with counselor

Streetlight is an adolescent and young adult support program here at UF Health for people aged 13-25 living with cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, and other chronic and life-limiting illnesses. The services are available during a patient’s admission to Shands Hospital. To request services, ask your medical team or call *50917 from a hospital phone.

UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Streetlight Program Provides:

  • Laptops & Homework Help
  • Art Materials & Jewelry Making
  • DVDs & Magazines
  • Streetlight T-Shirt & Room Visits
  • Video Games/Systems
  • Manicures and Pedicures
  • Guitars and Other Musical Instruments
  • ShandsSpaces: a collage of your personal identity
  • Teen lounge with pool, music, computers, and board games

Hospital Homebound

Education During Treatment

A homebound or hospitalized student is a student who has a medically diagnosed physical or psychiatric condition which is acute or catastrophic in nature, a chronic illness, or a repeated intermittent illness due to a persisting medical problem and that confines the student to home or the hospital and restricts activities for an extended period of time.

If hospital/homebound services are needed, the clinical social worker will coordinate with the family, the medical team, and the hospital school teacher to refer the family.

Hospital School Teacher: Michelle Roberts has been a Homebound Instructor with Alachua County Schools since February 2016. She came to Shands following her work as a Learning Specialist with the University of Florida’s Athletic Department, where she had worked with collegiate athletes since 2008. She can see patients during admission or as outpatients when relocated to the local area for an extended period of time.

Medical Interpreter & Translation Services

We provide interpretation services each year to thousands of patients and their families with limited English proficiency to ensure patient safety and compassionate care. Spanish medical interpreters are available from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, to assist patients and families during their hospital stay. We also offer 24/7 phone translation services when our interpreters are unavailable. Contact the Office of Patient Experience for assistance (352) 265-0123.

Helpful Handouts

Coping Skills for Tough Times

Health & Wellness Video Series

Local and Online Support Programs

Stupid Cancer!

A nonprofit organization and the leader in young adult cancer advocacy, research, and support. They create shared experiences by producing life-changing live events and digital content that end isolation, build community, provide education, and foster meaningful relationships that last a lifetime. They’re mission is to empower, support, and improve health outcomes for the young adult (ages 15 – 39) cancer community.


A national nonprofit organization committed to extending the benefits of community by providing peer support for childhood cancer families. They provide modern platforms for primary caregivers to connect with each other, support one another, seek current and timely information, and begin the long-term healing process after a childhood cancer diagnosis through a strong, resilient and educated peer support community.

NCCS Mentoring Program

National Childhood Cancer Society (NCCS) provides an opportunity for children ages 10-17 who are in treatment to be partnered with childhood cancer survivors who are now young adults. The mentors are an experienced guide, trusted ally, and caring role model in helping face the challenges of childhood cancer.

HealthStreet Cancer Connections

Cancer Connections is a monthly educational and networking meeting held at HealthStreet for cancer healthcare professionals and cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. Anyone who is involved in the care or treatment of cancer patients or who provide a service to them is welcomed to join. The group meets at HealthStreet on the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 12pm-1pm featuring prominent cancer healthcare professionals. For more information about how to get involved with Cancer Connections, contact Barb Thomas at

ACCO Support Group on

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) introduced a 24/7 online community in partnership with in 2008. They’ve created a place where you can connect with others who know what you are going through. Among the many exciting features the new community offers, you can:

NCCS Family Support Program

National Childhood Cancer Society (NCCS) helps ease the emotional strain a childhood cancer diagnosis takes on families by providing a case manager who stands by a family’s side throughout their journey. NCCS case managers are trained in providing practical and emotional support to parents and caregivers. These dedicated individuals offer support during difficult times, educate parents and caregivers on how to best advocate for their child and provide referrals when needed.

CBTF Family to Family Mentor Program

Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF)’s longest running program, the Family 2 Family (F2F) Mentor Program connects caregiver, survivor, and bereaved caregiver mentors to families who are seeking peer support. They recognize the expertise and support which can be provided by people who have shared a similar experience.

More Psychosocial Support at UF Health

Arts in Medicine (Inpatient Only)
Monday – Friday, 9a – 5pm | Contact Via Bedside Nurse

  • Artists in Residence & Volunteers
  • Visual, performing, & literary arts at the bedside.

Case Management (Inpatient Only)
Contact Primary Medical Team

  • Referral for home medical supplies
  • Arrange hospital to hospital transfer
  • Referral for home health
  • Referral to pediatric skilled nursing facility
  • Insurance authorization as needed for discharge
  • Referral to pediatric inpatient rehab

Clinical Psychology (Consultation/Liaison Service)
Contact Primary Medical Team

  • Assessment of psychological functioning, coping & adjustment
  • Targeted interventions
  • Treatment plan development
  • Outpatient therapy services

Customer Service – (352) 265-0355
Billing Questions/Payment Plans

Dance/Movement Therapy
Contact Primary Medical Team

  • Available for Patients & Families
  • Expressive movement & creative arts
  • Art & body-based coping strategies

(352) 294-4880

  • Health Insurance Navigator
  • Free Therapy Night
  • Community Support Groups
  • Referral for free/low-cost medical care
  • Clothing & Toiletry Pantry

Insurance Counseling
Admissions Desk; 1st Floor | (352) 265-0236
May be able to help compare/contrast available plans and discuss resulting benefit coverage

Integrative Medicine
Contact Primary Medical Team

  • Integrative Medicine Assessment
  • Meditation/Relaxation
  • Tai Chi therapy
  • Massage Therapy

Contact Primary Medical Team

  • Assessment of neurocognitive functioning (inpatient)
  • Comprehensive neuropsych evaluations (outpatient)

Pediatric Guest Services
Kiosk in front of unit 4400 | (352) 594-5674

  • Bravery Beads
  • In-Kind Donations
  • Hospital Amenities