Welcome to

Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.

Learn More

Homebound Services

When your child is unable to attend school for several weeks because of cancer treatment, homebound education may be an option if your school district provides this service.

Receiving homebound services means a teacher will come to your home on a regular basis to teach your child. To qualify, usually children must have an illness that makes it medically necessary for them to be out of school for 2 weeks or more.

Pediatric cancer patient receives kiss and hug from mom as she graduates from kindergarten

For school districts that offer homebound services, most provide 3-5 hours of weekly home instruction.

Ask for Assistance

Because requirements vary depending on the school district, parents should work with a school liaison at the hospital to help get these services set up. The liaison may be a hospital teacher, social worker, or nurse coordinator. To authorize homebound services, your child’s doctor will need to sign a document explaining your child’s illness. This document will either be a letter from the doctor or a form provided by your child’s school system. There may be other documentation needed as well.

Since there is no federal law that requires a school district to provide homebound services, your school district may or may not offer them. Also, homebound services vary widely from state to state and even district to district. Larger school districts often will have a homebound services department. Smaller school districts may need to appoint a teacher to fill this role. Private schools usually do not provide homebound services unless a school administrator initiates a program using teachers in the school to work with patients after school hours.

The only time public school districts may be required to offer services is when the child has an Individual Education Program (IEP) for special education services. The IEP is a written document that is developed for each eligible child with a disability. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the school system has to continue the IEP and must have an IEP meeting if the child is out of school for 2 weeks or more (10 school days) to determine how services will be provided.

For school districts that offer homebound services, most provide 3-5 hours of weekly home instruction. The teacher will likely visit 2-3 times a week, providing teaching, review, classwork assignments, and homework. While there is less teaching time than a regular school week, your child has the benefit of one-on-one time with the teacher. The goal is for your child to stay current with regular classes and receive appropriate credit and grades. During this time, there should also be a reduction in work. The homebound teacher and classroom teacher(s) should collaborate on what work to prioritize for completion.

Keep communication lines open

Regular communication between the family and teacher is important for homebound instruction to work effectively. Make sure to

  • Provide clear, accurate information about your child’s illness, treatment, and side effects, so the teacher can plan lessons accordingly.
  • When necessary, have the teacher communicate directly with the hospital school liaison (this may be a hospital school program teacher, social worker, or nurse) to understand how the cancer and treatment may affect your child’s ability to learn.
  • Update the home teacher about changes in your child’s schedule because of illness, medical appointments, or hospitalizations.

When your child is ready to return to school, the home teacher can help with the transition.

To find information about your school district’s homebound program, visit the school district’s website and search for “homebound.” If the search isn’t helpful, look for information under topics such as “Student Services,” “Student Support,” “Hospital/ Home Services,” or “Health Services.” You can also call the office of your child’s school or the main phone number of your school district and ask for assistance.

Reviewed: June 2018