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Homebound Services

Homebound education may be an option when your child can’t attend school for several weeks because of cancer treatment.

Each state and school district has its own policies about providing homebound instruction.

Private schools usually do not provide homebound services. In some cases, teachers will work with patients after school hours.

Homebound services may include different types of instruction. These may include a teacher coming to your home, online school, or video chat with a teacher.

Most programs provide 3-5 hours of weekly instruction. Contact your district for more information. The goal is for your child to stay current with regular classes and receive appropriate credit and grades.

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.

How to set up services

Parents can work with a school liaison at the hospital to help get these services set up.

Your child’s doctor will need to sign a document explaining your child’s illness. It will either be a letter from the doctor or a form provided by the school. The school may need other documentation as well.

Homebound services vary widely. Larger school districts often will have a homebound services department. Smaller school districts may appoint a teacher to fill this role.

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 school district.

Keep communication lines open

Regular communication between the family and teacher is important for homebound instruction to work well.

  • Provide clear, accurate information about your child’s illness, treatment, and side effects. It will help the teacher plan lessons.
  • Have the teacher communicate directly with the hospital school liaison to understand how treatment may affect your child’s ability to learn.
  • Update the teacher about changes in your child’s schedule related to treatment.

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

Note: Students with IEPs

Federal law requires that the school continue to provide Individualized Education Program (IEP) special education services.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the school system must have an IEP meeting if the child is out of school for 2 weeks or more (10 school days). The meeting will determine how the school will provide services.

Reviewed: July 2019