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Social Work

When a life-threatening disease affects your child, it also affects your entire family. A medical social worker can help during this stressful time. 

A St. Jude social worker can help you and your family deal with the impact of the diagnosis on everyday life. We can also talk with you and your child about illness and help siblings cope, as well as other family members.

Our social workers have the education and licensure to be able to provide counseling. All of our clinical staff have obtained master’s degrees in social work, have LCSW or LMSW licenses or other independent licenses.

How can Social Work help you and your family?

A St. Jude social worker can:

  • Offer counseling to help you and your family adjust to diagnosis and treatment
  • Provide counseling to parents and caregivers about the impact of illness on family relationships
  • Help you communicate needs or questions to the medical team
  • Help you navigate the hospital setting
  • Offer guidance before your child returns home
  • Provide transitional counseling from active treatment to after completion of treatment and from pediatric care to adult care
  • Provide information about and referrals to community resources such as wish groups, financial resources including Social Security benefits and health care and insurance resources
  • Offer guidance to international and culturally diverse patient families

If your child is going to receive treatment, a social worker will meet with you to complete a social history. This information about your background will help your medical and psychosocial team members as they plan and discuss treatment with you. It also provides you with the opportunity to talk with your social worker about what services you think would be helpful to you and your family.

Social workers are available Monday through Friday during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). A social worker is also onsite Saturday and Sunday during regular business hours. After hours, a social worker is on call for urgent needs. 

When should you talk to your social worker? 

  • When your child begins treatment or has a change in treatment. A social worker can help your child and family adjust to the disease and plan for the emotional impact of treatment. Your social worker will also help your child’s medical team understand any emotional, financial, social or family issues you are coping with that may impact you and your child’s treatment schedule. 
  • If you feel stressed or are experiencing a family crisis. Coping with illness can be stressful. Reach out to a social worker any time you need support or counseling.
  • If your financial situation changes. Social workers can provide counseling to help you manage your financial resources while your child is on treatment and explore potential community resources that may be available to you.
  • If you must leave your child in someone else’s care for a brief period. If you need to return home briefly, you will need to arrange for another family member or friend to take care of your child. Your social worker can help you plan this transition.  
  • When returning to your home community. Social workers can provide support and counseling as you begin to prepare to return home.  Additionally, they can assess your situation and see if you are in need of community referrals like counseling services. They can also help with a referral to the St. Jude school program to help your child transition back to school or arrange for a homebound teacher. The goal is to help you make a smooth transition back to your home community. 
  • When custody or guardianship changes. Talk to your social worker about how this may impact your child’s treatment and medical decision-making abilities.
  • When your child approaches their 16th birthday. Your social worker will help your family prepare for the day when your child assumes the right to make decisions regarding their medical treatment. This happens when the child turns 18.

What is the role of a medical social worker at St. Jude?

St. Jude social workers hold master’s degrees in social work and are certified/licensed to practice counseling by the Tennessee Board of Social Work. They have specific expertise to help you and your family cope with the emotional impact of living with illness. Social workers also provide education in the community and in the hospital about the impact of illness on patients and families.

To find out more about Social Work or to reach the social worker assigned to your child, call 901-595-3670. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3670. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3670.