Project PENCIL

Challenge

More than four million school-aged children in the United States have chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and cancer.

These children are more likely than healthier students to be absent from school because of their illness or its treatment. Frequent school absences make academic and social success extremely difficult.

Schools have a legal requirement to support children with chronic illness, but navigating the school system can be challenging for already-stressed parents.

Approach

Project PENCIL materials help parents of children with chronic illness and intermittent school attendance to understand and navigate the school system to successfully obtain school services for their child. Companion materials help teachers create a supportive classroom and peer environment for children with chronic illness. The goal of Project PENCIL is to improve parents’ and teachers’ abilities to support children with chronic illness in school so that these children can reach their full potential.

Findings

Parents who used Project PENCIL’s parent materials gained knowledge about educational services available through schools for their chronically ill learner. They reported feeling more positive and confident about working with the school and teachers to support their children.

Participant Feedback

“It was really enjoyable to read. I didn’t feel like I was reading a textbook. It was engaging and that’s what I liked.” – PP Parent

“They’ve helped me have more confidence . . . I have guidance on facts and how to talk about it with the school as well as guidance on how to handle it with my son.” – PP Parent

“I feel a sense of empowerment that there is a website go to if I have questions.” – PP Parent

“I think my confidence in being able to choose what’s best for my son, I think that’s increased . . . I know now that we have legal protections.” – PP Parent

“I feel like my ability to deal with the challenges that may come up or that I’m concerned about [has increased] . . . I feel more prepared.” – PP Teacher

“I think I have a better knowledge of how to do that and where to go to get resources and just [a] more organized way of doing things. In the beginning, I felt like I was sporadic, grasping for things, and now I feel like I’m more organized and ready to move forward.” – PP Teacher

Products

To learn more about Project PENCIL or to purchase the parent or teacher toolkits, visit: www.projectpencil.com/

More information on the methodology and outcomes of the Project PENCIL evaluation coming soon.

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