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Wonders & Worries is a non-profit organization that provides free counseling services to children when a parent or family member has a chronic or life-threatening illness. It provides assistance in English and Spanish to more than 2,500 people in over 500 Central Texas families.

Why Children Need Help

The impact of a parent’s serious illness on a child can be profound and can affect their mental health, family functioning, school performance, friendships, growth and development, and overall adjustment. Typically, children in these situations are reported to experience behavioral changes, physical complaints, anxiety, decreased use of effective coping skills, and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Wonders & Worries counsels children in understanding the situation and handling these potential negative effects and provides parents the resources and support they need to help their family work through such a crisis.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 25 percent of the 1.4 million adults diagnosed with cancer this year will have a child age 18 or younger. Research shows that a parent’s serious illness can profoundly impact their children, and that stress within families is even higher prior to a parent’s death than following death. A 2006 study found that 29 percent of children of cancer patients experience symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTS) syndrome in the first year of the illness, with an additional group experiencing increased PTS symptoms as time wears on and they have more time to worry about the parent’s disease.


Certified Child Life Specialists – professionals who are specially trained to help children and their families understand and manage challenging life events and stressful health care experiences - provide all services, which include:

  • Individual Sessions:– for children ages 2–18
  • Group Sessions: helping children ages 5+ meet other children coping with similar experiences
  • Child / Parent Relationship Training Classes: teaching parents how to reconnect with their children during the illness or following a loss
  • Informal Support / Recreational Group Activities – allowing families to enjoy being together in a fun, relaxing environment
  • Bereavement Support Sessions – helping families prepare


Wonders & Worries was launched with the support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), which provided funding in spring 2001 to conduct a pilot support group for children who had a parent with cancer. LAF provided an additional grant in fall 2001 to expand services to include a school-age support group, an adolescent support group, individual counseling for children who have a parent with cancer, and a social function for the reunion of all Wonders & Worries participants.


citations to come

See also


  • "The Wonders & Worries staff embodies a level of professionalism that is exemplary. The staff's ability to problem solve for complex situations is superlative. Their dependability, flexibility, collaboration, and ability to effectively network are noteworthy admirable attributes." - Hospice Austin
  • "Wonders & Worries offers excellent psychological support to children and families in times of crisis. There is not other an organization in the Austin area that provides such a wide range of care to children coping with the illness of a parent. We couldn't ask for a better partner to care or our families with children." - Cancer Connection (previously cancare)
  • "It is of great professional comfort to know that I am able to refer to an organization like Wonders & Worries where the therapeutic needs of children can be addressed. You use creative and therapeutic methodologies to deal with the psychological needs of these children and it is imperative that it continue to provide the services that it does. "- South Austin Cancer Center
  • Rock'N'Realty:
  • Hospice of Wake County:

Further reading

External links

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