Parent Liaison Program
Providing free, peer-to-peer, psychosocial,
in-hospital and virtual support to Ontario childhood cancer families
Our Parent Liaisons (l to r) Michelle, Karen, and Susan
Read their bios here (scroll down to Staff)
About the Parent Liaison Program
Our primary focus in helping families is through our Parent Liaison program - the only one of its kind in Ontario - which is currently operating at The Hospital for Sick Children ("SickKids") in Toronto and at Credit Valley Hospital (CVH) in Mississauga. Parent Liaisons are professionals and parents who have already undertaken a childhood cancer journey and understand the impact a diagnosis has on the entire family. They help parents from a non-medical point of view and can help direct them through the myriad of services and opportunities that exist for families both in and out of the hospital. This program is offered at no cost to families!
Our Parent Liaisons meet with parents and families at Sick Kids and CVH and help to address fears or concerns that they may have. They are available for informal chats and visits wherever families might be in the hospital. Program services offered include:
Information on hospital services, community-based parent support groups, events and resources from other organizations, and more!
Weekly drop-ins where parents have an opportunity to get support materials and sit and chat with other parents in a comfortable setting
One-on-one support through private visits and chats wherever parents may be in the hospital
Peer connections with other parents of children with cancer
Hospital parking pass reimbursement and distribution of gift cards and SickKids hospital meal vouchers to newly diagnosed families for necessities such as gas, groceries, and in-hospital dining.
Distribution of free items such as health record binders, tote bags, detergent pods for doing laundry at the hospital, toiletries and personal care items, educational books and resources, therapeutic toys, special treats, and more (item availability varies weekly)!
As we grow, OPACC aims to take our Parent Liaison program to other Pediatric Cancer Centres in Ontario.
Lead Parent Liaison
Michelle Da Costa
Did you know that our services go beyond drop-ins and peer support? In addition to the important work done in the hospital, the Parent Liaison team provides a crucial bridge between the organization and the broader community. Some of the work that our Parent Liaison team does in the community includes:
Provide training, support, mentoring, and encouragement to community-based parent support group Facilitators;
Meet with hospital staff, community partners, donors, and other stakeholders as needed;
Sit on advisory committees/focus groups and actively participate in research studies that add profile and credibility to OPACC and the parent voice as deemed necessary;
Serve as the main point of contact with media and external organizations (hospitals, government, etc.) seeking input from the perspective of the parent voice;
Attend community events, conferences, fundraisers, etc. to represent OPACC;
Attend funerals as requested by bereaved families;
Share information about programs and available supports from a wide variety of options including camps, support groups, organizations, etc.; speak/present to community groups and other organizations about OPACC and better understanding our stakeholders
Here's why parent support offered through the Parent Liaison program is so important:
Increases understanding of supports available within the local community and at hospital locations
Increases communication with members of the families’ health care team
Increases ability of families to source needed supports
Decreases individual levels of stress related to financial pressures
Decreases individual stress and anxiety levels related to feelings of isolation
and, perhaps most importantly, it increases the ability of parents to focus on their child - the child is supported when the parents are supported!
In a system of family centered care, the Parent Liaisons help empower parents to be better contributing members of their child's health care team.
Are we making a difference? Read powerful Testimonials from our families and judge for yourself!
Hospital Parent Drop-ins
Location: Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Sears Cancer Clinic (8th Floor)
Days: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Times: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Description: An opportunity to get support materials, meet and dialogue with other peer parents, and enjoy refreshments in a safe, comfortable, and discreet facilitated environment.
Location: Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, POGO Satellite Clinic
Time: 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Schedules subject to change, check our social media pages for the latest weekly updates.
How to Help
We gratefully accept donations to our Parent Liaisons for distribution to families at our weekly drop-ins, including toiletries, detergent pods, toys, books, care packages, gift cards, and more! If you would like to donate something please contact our Lead Parent Liaison, Susan, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Special thanks to the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation and Lainie's Angels for being the original funders of the Parent Liaison program:
Major ongoing funding for our Parent Liaison program at SickKids is currently provided through the Charitable Gaming program