Children's Hospital Colorado

4 Ways a Social Worker Can Help You

​Contrary to popular belief, social workers are not merely here to arrange transportation for families, provide gas cards, pay families' bills, or provide access to Medicaid, food stamps and public benefits. They are, in fact, master-trained clinicians who can interpret verbal and non-verbal communication, de-escalate stressful situations, and offer non-judgmental support.

A social worker helps a teen

While other faculty and staff may be busy treating your child's ailment, social workers provide other services that can help make your family's stay easier. And the best part is that any family can ask for a social worker!

Here are four ways a social worker can benefit you and your child:

1. A challenging illness or diagnosis. Finding out test results or hearing a diagnosis can feel overwhelming. It’s OK to need outside support. Ask for a social worker to help you face a medical challenge. You may want a social worker in these situations:

  • Failure to thrive
  • Questions of abuse, neglect  or non-accidental trauma
  • Life-threatening illness
  • Developmental damage 
  • Mental health condition
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Swallowing of a harmful substance
  • Severe injury

2. Family-related issues. Support systems are important to recovery. A social worker can help you and your child manage the emotional aspects of your stay. Family-related issues include:

  • Lack of family and friends
  • Language, cultural and religious concerns
  • Homelessness
  • History of violence or abuse
  • Death of family member
  • High levels of stress within the family and/or home environment
  • Caregiver has chronic illness
  • Concerns about caregiver/child relationship (i.e., parent is rough with child)
  • Single or young parent with multiple children or children with chronic illness
  • Recent relocation

3. Behavioral health, mental health or social issues.  Children can suffer from behavioral, mental or social issues from outside the hospital. This can cause stress that may worsen their condition. In these situations, a social worker can help you by keeping your child calm, organized and empowered. Contact a social worker if your child is dealing with any of the following:

  • Financial problems (i.e., no transportation, no money to eat, no insurance, no housing, no utility services, telephone, or medical services)
  • Repeated stays in the hospital
  • Caregiver/patient doesn’t follow treatment or show up for appointments
  • Family/patient has history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Family is in conflict with hospital staff
  • Family is unable to follow-through with medical treatment
  • Patient or sibling is not attending school
  • Family/patient is involved in gangs/street violence
  • Extended family is interfering with patient's care

4. Legal help. Patients enter our hospital with legal issues ranging from adoption, to religious practices, to abandonment. To get in touch with Social Services, first contact the social work department. Legal issues, where Social Services is needed, include:

  • Adoptions, foster care placements and/or relinquishments
  • Abandonment of patient
  • Custody/guardianship issues or conflicts
  • Previous involvement with Social Services
  • Consideration of DNR/termination of life support
  • Caregiver is imprisoned, hospitalized, or residing in a drug/alcohol treatment facility
  • Religious beliefs do not allow certain medical practices (i.e., Jehovah's Witness, Christian Science, etc.)

How to contact a social worker:

Call the Social Work Department at 720-777-6975.