Family Support Program


When you learn the shocking news that your child is seriously ill, a million emotions and practical problems hit you all at once.

Friends of Karen has guided families through this journey thousands of times. Since 1978, we have helped families just like yours navigate the emotional and financial confusion that lies ahead.

Financial Assistance

Types of assistance we may be able to provide include:

  • Household Expenses such as rent, utilities, phone, and food if you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of your child’s illness, such as loss of a parent’s income with no other resources upon which to rely.
  • Illness Related Expenses may include childcare, travel, hospital lodging, co-payments, and co-insurance.
  • Holiday, Birthday and Back-to-School Gift Programs for all the children in your family.

Emotional Assistance

Our experienced social workers, case managers, creative arts therapists, and child life specialists carefully assess your family’s needs. Our services are tailored to your family’s individual situation, and include:

  • Support and Guidance through home, hospital, phone and virtual visits to help you cope with the impact your child’s illness has on the entire family.
  • Professional Support to help address the needs of your ill child and your other children through our Sibling Support Program.
  • Education and Guidance to help you anticipate the impact your child’s illness will have on your family functioning.

Advocacy Support

  • Advocacy to assist your family in applying for other resources.
  • Collaboration with hospital staff and other organizations to address your child’s illness and your family’s needs.

Bereavement Support

Sadly, not all of the children we help at Friends of Karen survive their illness, but Friends of Karen’s help does not stop after the death of a child. Since the organization was established, we have been providing grief support to families. Friends of Karen’s bereavement help includes supporting parents through phone calls and visits, bereavement groups, support for siblings from our child life specialists and creative arts therapists, grief books for parents and siblings, cards and small gifts to acknowledge the birthday of the deceased child or the anniversary of their death, and an annual Candle Lighting Memorial Ceremony. We continue to send birthday gifts and holiday gifts to siblings for one year after the death of their brother or sister, so siblings know they are not forgotten.