Wonders & Worries has an extraordinary impact on families in a health crisis. Over the past ten years, Wonders & Worries has served 4,000 individuals in nearly 1,000 families in Central Texas. Families are served in 100 schools throughout 10 school districts in Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties, with some crossover into Caldwell and Bastrop counties. Wonders & Worries serves a critical need in some schools where the ratio of school counselors to students is 1:900.
Debra Rowe, a school counselor, said “As a Certified Trauma and Loss School Specialist, I can distinguish the differences between grief and trauma reactions in children. We all rely heavily on the services (Wonders & Worries) offers and are so thankful for the work they do with our students who are in such a fragile state.”
The Need for Services
Serious medical illness in a parent threatens children in a significant way. In a child’s eyes, parents are protectors. Seeing them weak or hurting can have a profound impact, especially on older children who have more of a clear understanding of the circumstances. Sadly, there is suggestive evidence that children may internalize their ill parent’s behavior as the child not being lovable or valued. Studies using comparative analyses help build a compelling case that illness impacts the child’s adjustment, especially during the early period of diagnosis, treatment and early recovery. Specific problems shown by children of mothers with cancer include regression, withdrawal, anxiety about family stability, and integrity and antisocial behavior.
Furthermore, studies show that the ill parent is in a highly challenged position to effectively parent the child about the illness. The reality is that diagnosed parents, even highly educated and credentialed parents, report they do not know what to do or say to help their child.Research indicates that the most effective therapy for families with parental illness are focused, targeted programs whose outcomes are to enhance parenting behavior, skills and confidence, and to diminish illness-related distress in the child and diagnosed parent, especially during the first year of diagnosis and treatment.
Wonders & Worries’ Therapeutic Services
Wonders & Worries is proud to offer one of only a few comprehensive programs in the nation that provides professional, free support to children affected by a parent’s serious illness. The organization’s copyrighted 6-week comprehensive program counsels children during this challenging time, and professional third party analysis indicates the program has proven results with children and families. Children served by Wonders & Worries derive a combination of behavioral benefits that span all areas of their young lives, from communicating about the illness, to an improved relationship with the ill family member, better school performance, and a decrease in feelings of anxiousness and nervousness.
One parent recently shared the following through an independent survey: “I think what Wonders & Worries does is absolutely miraculous – generous, comforting, solid. They step in at the toughest moments in our lives and provide a place for our kids to feel and express their feelings about the illness and, at the same time, (allow children) to step away from the stress at home.”
Wonders & Worries’ services are always free, and children from all socio-economic backgrounds are served. Over 40% of families served by Wonders & Worries are classified as “underserved” based on family income. Furthermore, over 20 percent of client families report an earned income of less than $25,000 annually.
General Operating Support
Wonders & Worries stands alone and operates without support from federal, state, city, or county government funding. We rely solely on charitable contributions from individual, corporate and foundation partners to provide our families with services at no cost. As such, general operating support is critical for Wonders & Worries in order to continue serving all families in their home districts or at a location that is convenient to them with no waiting list.
Benefits and Outcomes
Looking at the long-term potential impact on children and families who receive services from Wonders & Worries, we can confidently assert that through its programs, children with parental illness will have a decrease in risk behavior, they will learn resiliency and coping skills that will serve them for a lifetime, they will have less instances of posttraumatic stress symptoms, and they will have a decreased need for continued psychosocial services into adulthood.
A parent recently wrote, “We, as a family, are in a better place now. I am so grateful to the entire Wonders & Worries’ family for the encouragement and dedication you all provided. I tell anyone who will listen how GREAT and what a DIFFERENCE Wonders & Worries made. The greatest decision I ever made was calling on you guys. Thank You.”