Program supports parents when children are alone in the hospital

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A local mom who lost her son has managed to find a way to be a "back -up mom" to hundreds of other kids in the community.

It's part of a program that's expected to soon go nationwide. The mom started a program called "Josh Cares" at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. It's making a huge difference for families with children when the unexpected happens and parents just need somebody to help "back-up" their baby.

Kingston and Julius Jones just turned one in February 2017. They have been through a lot due to a complication which happens prior to birth in one in ten thousand babies; they shared the same placenta. It also means Kingston has yet to leave the hospital, which means his parents and twin brother can only be with him there.

One of the challenges is that they have other children at home and they are busy working parents, so certainly finding enough time with their child at the hospital can be a challenge. That's where the program "Josh Cares" comes in. Josh was a patient at the hospital too. When he was ten-years-old he was hit by a car while riding his bike. He did not survive.

But while he was at the hospital his mother, Anne Helfrich, noticed something missing and asked, "'Do you have a lot of kids that are here by themselves all the time?' And the staff unanimously said, 'Yes, we do.'"

That was when "Josh Cares" began. It's an organization that speaks to who Josh was, the organization was founded to fund what people might call, "back-up" moms. "Josh Cares" now has enough money to pay for six, trained, child-life specialists that stay with babies such as Kingston when mom and dad can't.

Lauren Koehler, a child life specialist, said, "We support them developmentally, we support them through procedures here at the hospital, and most of all we keep them in touch with their family."

Every day, Koehler and her team assist with Josh's mission. "Josh Cares" is the first program to fund time rather than things. It's the only program in the country like it.

The program does always need volunteers for fundraising and anyone willing to help with the launch in other cities. CLICK HERE for a link to more information.

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