Children who are technology assisted or have complex medical needs are eligible for our services.

We offer three care programs at Almost Home Kids: transitional, respite and respite transportation care.

Transition Care referrals are accepted from Hospital Discharge Planners, Social Workers, Nurses, and Physicians. Parents who feel their child would benefit from Transitional Care can contact their child’s community or hospital care coordinator or social worker.

In addition to the care programs, Almost Home Kids provides:

  • Support to the family by actively seeking financial assistance
  • Training programs for families and health care providers
  • Community support, training and exceptional medical care as your child grows. Once a child receives care at Almost Home Kids, they are part of the Almost Home Kids Family.

To refer a child for care at AHK Naperville or AHK Chicago, please contact: Layenie Anderson, Director of Case Management at LAnderson@almosthomekids.org

To refer a child for care at AHK Peoria, please call 309-573-0700


Respite: The short term stay is for a child who has medical complexities and/or may be technology assisted. From a 24 hour stay to one lasting up to 14 days, each child is provided with medical/nursing care and recreational activities in a secure and therapeutic environment. Families may choose this program for a variety of circumstances: temporary absence of private duty nursing care at home, parent illness, vacations, family emergencies and much needed rest.

Transitional Care

Transitional Care: This is a short term stay, up to 120 days, and provides the bridge between hospital and home for a child who is clinically ready for discharge from a hospital, yet important factors need to be considered in order to bring the child home safely. The family may need further support through training and equipment education regarding the clinical needs of the child and/or nursing agency staffing plan.


Respite Transportation: Children who have medical complexities can be safely transported from their home to Almost Home Kids, under the supervision of a medical professional, for respite care. Children with complex medical conditions that rely on medical technology require a significant amount of supplies and back up equipment to travel with them – the logistics of moving their supplies in addition to transporting the child safely can also be difficult for families. Having a transportation service like Angel Wheels makes the process manageable and efficient.

The program is a support arm of the respite care program and provides an easy way for families to more effectively utilize respite services at Almost Home Kids.

Please contact Layenie Anderson, Director of Case Management if you would like to learn more about this program: landerson@almosthomekids.org

Emergency Respite

Emergency Respite:  In the event a family is faced with an unforeseen emergency, such as a death in the family or a parent/caregiver’s unscheduled hospital stay, Almost Home Kids will make every effort to accommodate an emergency respite stay for their child with medical complexities.

International Program

International Program: Almost Home Kids welcomes children and families from all around the globe, enriching our home with the diversity of different cultures, languages and foods.

The International Patient Services team from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and RIC’s Global Patient Services help ease the transition and make our families feel at home.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact Layenie Anderson at landerson@almosthomekids.org

Child Life Program

Child Life Program: Our Child Life Program is an integral part of the overall care and well being of each child that comes to Almost Home Kids. By facilitating play opportunities, at the bedside and in playrooms, their continued growth and development is greatly enhanced.

The Child Life Specialist benefits our program by:

  • Creating a sense of routine by helping children maintain independence, self-esteem and confidence.
  • Minimizing stress by encouraging positive coping behaviors.
  • Helping children prepare for and understand medical procedures and experiences.

Child Life Practicum at AHK 
The Child Life Practicum provides students interested in entering the field of Child Life, a practicum opportunity to work with children of various developmental levels in a pediatric transitional and respite home-like facility while being supervised by a Certified Child Life Specialist.

If you are interested in learning more about the program please contact Alex Schober at: aschober@luriechildrens.org

Fall 2021 Child Life Practicum:
Application Postmark Deadline: Friday July 9th, 2021
Practicum Dates: September-December*
*Time frame flexible based upon student and supervisor availability

Sleep Medicine

Sleep Medicine: Almost Home Kids provides sleep studies and sleep medicine consults onsite at our Chicago facility. Thanks to our affiliation with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago we are able to provide evaluations by the Lurie Children’s sleep medicine team, with reports and recommendations going to the child’s primary care physician and our own AHK Medical Director.

Lurie Children’s Sleep Medicine’s Director is Stephen H. Sheldon, DO. Dr. Sheldon is board-certified in both pediatrics and sleep disorders medicine. He has served as a member of the board of directors and was Secretary/Treasurer of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He has been a faculty member of the National Sleep Medicine Course (sponsored by the AASM) and is course director of the Advanced Pediatric Sleep Medicine Program of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine, Northside Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia.

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy: Children staying at AHK are considered medically complex due to a wide variety of medical diagnoses including prematurity, chromosomal defects, cerebral palsy, respiratory problems that require a ventilator, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. They all are at risk for physical limitations and delays in their overall development due to their medical diagnosis, history of prematurity and prolonged hospitalizations.

At AHK one of our goals is to improve the quality of life for children and families. Physical therapists focus on improving physical abilities and promoting mobility, function and quality of life. They accomplish this through therapeutic exercise, strength building, use of assistive devices and education. We are able to offer therapy sessions at each of our locations, eliminating the need to physically go, or be taken to, a hospital or clinic, which is often inconvenient or very challenging for children who require specialized transportation. Above all, these therapies prevent further disability, improve strength and mobility.

AHK’s Physical Therapy Program was launched with the help of many generous friends. The Tellabs Foundation awarded $50,000 seed dollars to create the new program, which improves the health of children with disabilities through education and treatment. In addition to Tellabs Foundation our PT donors include Grant Healthcare Foundation, Alvin H. Baum Family Fund and The Field Foundation of Illinois

Medical Education

AHK Medical Education

Director Sponsored Programs
Ponda Barnes, PhD
E: pobarnes@almosthomekids.org
T: (312) 227-8196

Manager Advanced Practice Nurse Fellowship Program:
Anita Berry MSN, CNP, APN, PMHS
E: Anberry@luriechildrens.org
T: (630) 408-1717

Keith Veselik MD Medical Education Program

Background and Justification:
Since children with medical complexity are living longer lives, the need for doctors who are competent in their care is growing. Unfortunately, the current reality is that most doctors can complete their entire 7-10 years of training and never learn directly how to serve children with medical complexity outside of the ICU’s. On this rotation, the student will learn the management of this type of complex child in the context of a home-like transitional and respite care center.

To expose the learners to the wide variety of clinical and non-clinical issues related to the care of children with complex health needs and to teach the learners about the systems of care and support that are involved with children with medical complexity and their families.

Time Commitment [three options]:
– 1-5 day “observer-ships”
– 2 week rotations
– 4 week rotations

Didactic Requirements [for all learners]:
– Kuo DZ, Houtrow AJ, AAP Council on Children with Disabilities. Recognition and Management of
Medical Complexity. Pediatrics. 2016
– AHK Glossary
– Style guide Relevant to Disability Issues

Evaluation and persons performing the evaluation:
– Dr. Peter J. Smith will evaluate all learners with pre-/post-assessments.
– Staff at AHK will also evaluate the students on the 2-week and 4-week rotations.
– Curriculum Resources for Medical Education at Almost Home Kids, Chicago

The following resources are readings and internet links for self-directed learning. PRE-READING (Read prior to attendance)
Recognition and Management of Medical Complexities
Frequently Asked Questions
Financial Hardship in Families Raising CYSHCN
Names to Know
Style Guide Relevant to Disability Issues

Additional Articles:
– Referral Process: The process for referring a child to Almost Home Kids
– DSCC: http://www.uic.edu/hsc/dscc/
– MCHB: http://mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/titlevgrants/
– HRSA: http://www.hrsa.gov/about/index.html

Any questions? Contact Ponda Barnespobarnes@almosthomekids.org

Parent/Caregiver Resources

Parent/Caregiver Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics
Dedicated to the Health of all Children, this physician-run academy provides an excellent source of information to parents.

American Cancer Society
Information on childhood cancer:

American Lung Association of Illinois – Greater Chicago
This statewide health organization has the state’s leading experts on lung disease as members. The mission is to make a world free of lung disease and to promote lung health.

The ARC of Illinois
Statewide Health Information Resource for Families of Children and Youth with Special Needs. It is committed to empowering persons with disabilities to achieve full participation in community life through informed choices.

Access Living
We equip people with disabilities with the tools to overcome societal barriers to inclusion by imparting independent living skills, teaching economic self-sufficiency, and enabling people with disabilities to transition to autonomous community living

Center for Disability & Elder Law
The Chicago Bar Association founded this nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the legal rights of low-income persons with disabilities and senior citizens in Cook County.

The Center for Independence through Conductive Education
Provides unique intensive group method of special education which expects and demands active learning and participation by the child in attempting to overcome his/her motor disability (i.e., cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury), The founder’s motto: When you do not educate the child to be independent, you educate the child to be dependent. Dr. Andras Peto.

Community Support Services
A private not-for-profit service agency that initiates provides and promotes services for people with developmental disabilities and their families, within their communities.

Easter Seals Disability Services
Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region provides services for infants, children and adults with disabilities to achieve maximum independence, and to provide support for the families who love and care for them.

Ever Thrive Illinois
Ever Thrive Illinois works to improve the health of women, children, and families over the lifespan through community engagement, partnerships, policy analysis, education, and advocacy.

Family Support Network of Illinois
Their mission is to unify individuals with disabilities and their families to advocate for funding, services, and community resources that strengthen and support the individual and empowering them to life in their own homes.

Health & Disability Advocates
HDA is a social innovator that promotes health and economic security for vulnerable populations so that they can lead secure, dignified lives. HDA works with, but is not limited to, the following: low income families and individuals, children, youth, older adults, adults with disabilities, and Veterans and service members.

Make-a-Wish Foundation
Since 1980 this foundation has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work.

Medline Plus
Providing “Trusted Health Information for You” this government website has topics and news on conditions, diseases and wellness.

National Center for Learning Disabilities
Special Education Services for students with learning disabilities are covered under the Individuals with
Disabilities Learning Act (IDEA) which provides states with federal funds to help make special education services available to students with disabilities.

Normal Moments, Inc.
Helping parents of children with critical illnesses by providing support to them in the home, in hospital and via web resources.

An independent Services Coordination Agency in DuPage County, providing individual service coordination for people with disabilities.

The Kids Equipment Network
We are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to connecting children with special needs, from birth to 21 years of age, who have little or no funding, with needed durable adaptive equipment.

Governmental Agencies

Departments of Health – by County in Illinois
Your resource for many Health Services: mental health, community and environmental health.

Specific websites for childhood immunizations and the WIC programs in some Northern Illinois counties are given below:

WIC: Women Infants & Children Clinics
WIC is a federally funded program to aid low income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and children up to the age of 5 who are at nutritional risk. The Food and Nutrition Services branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes grants to states to provide supplemental foods, health care referral and nutrition education to women, infants and children.

Cook County:

DeKalb County:

DuPage County:

Kane County:

Lake County:

McHenry County:

Will County:

Winnebago County:

Childhood Immunizations

Cook County:

DeKalb County:

DuPage County:

Kane County:

Lake County:

McHenry County:

Will County:

Winnebago County:

Department of Human Services – Illinois
Services to help families meet basic needs and to become self-sufficient. Links to Early intervention services for children up to three years of age are included in the second and third link below.



Division of Specialized Services for Children
The link below provides an information library and resources for families and children with special health care needs.
The DSCC Facebook page is always being updated with resources, new products and local events: https://www.facebook.com/dscc.uic.edu

This link brings you to a pamphlet entitled “Planning for your Teenager’s Future” for families of teenagers with special needs.

Research Program

redcap_clear_high_resResearch Program: Starting in 2013, Almost Home Kids entered into a formal collaboration with a research team from the University of Chicago.  This team has initiated a research protocol, having received approval by the University of Chicago’s Institutional Review Board [protocol number IRB13-1082], which is attempting to quantify important aspects of the experiences of the caregivers for the children served in the Transition Program.  This project is led by Sarah Sobotka, MD, MSCP, and is entitled, “Describing the caregiver experience of transitioning home with new disability/medical technology.”

Caregivers who consent to participate in the study complete a survey created by Dr. Sobotka and her team at several points related to the time that their child is served at AHK.  They complete the survey first within a week of admission to AHK, then after 2 months, 6 months and 12 months of their child being discharged from AHK.  One portion of this survey includes questions measuring caregiver stress that have been modified from prior validated instruments.  Changes in this portion of the survey will be one of the primary outcome measures for the study.

Additionally, all parents who utilize Respite Care Services are asked to complete a separate survey (not part of the research study) on their self-reported stress levels.

The datasets from both of these surveys will be used to identify trends, provide additional services and monitor the effectiveness of our clinical programming.