School Support

Our school support program has been developed to assist children with cancer and their siblings in the classroom. Facilitated by the Parent Liaison, this peer support model empowers parents to advocate for their child in the educational system.

Since 2001, Candlelighters Simcoe has been represented on the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for the Simcoe County District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. Knowledge attained through SEAC includes updates on Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and Identification Placement Review Committee (IPRC) process, awareness of educational resources available to students with exceptionalities such as Educational Assistants, technology (laptops, iPads), and adaptive programming.

What services does the School Support Program include?


Presentations are offered to classmates of children with cancer and their siblings, usually at the elementary level. This may include viewing the video “Why, Charlie Brown, Why” along with discussions about cancer, treatments, side effects, and the emotions that go along with them. Presentations are tailored to the wishes of the family and may include the participation of the student (e.g. through photos/videos of their personal experience, bravery beads, or discussion/demonstration of special medical equipment used by the student).

Candlelighters Simcoe can also facilitate presentations for large groups of students by division (primary, junior, intermediate), as well as during school fundraisers such as the Terry Fox Run, or for those studying the science of the body. We also offer presentations at the school board level for professional development days, area principal meetings, special education consultants, guidance counselors, and chaplains.

Information Sessions

Information sessions are available for teachers, principals, special education consultants, and school board personnel to provide training on how school communities can best support families during their cancer journey.

Support and Resources

Candlelighters Simcoe provides support to parents during IEP, IPRC, and transition meetings with school principals, teachers, special education consultants, therapists, etc., and helps to advocate for home instruction during the treatment process. This step-by-step process is available from diagnosis, through active treatment, and over the long term. We can assist with identifying long-term effects of cancer treatment that relate to educational outcomes and provide relevant resources for teachers. Resources may be loaned to the school for use in the classroom, including DVDs, books, and games for children relating to illness and cancer. The needs of siblings of children with cancer are also considered.

Should a child become palliative, support for the school community is available during the last stages of illness and after a student’s passing, including dialogue with students about their feelings and wishes for memorializing a classmate who has died.

Parent’s Role in the School Program

Candlelighters Simcoe empowers parents to participate in school support with the following guidelines and suggestions:

  • Parents have the right to decide what medical information is shared with the school and what information will be put in their child’s OSR (Ontario Scholastic Record).
  • Parents are encouraged to write their own information letter to the school with pertinent medical information such as diagnosis, treatment schedule, side effects, safety concerns within the school, and emergency contact information (sample letters are available through Candlelighters Simcoe).
  • Parents are encouraged to participate in an initial meeting with the school to discuss what is happening, what the impact will be in the future, and how this information will be shared with the school and students. The Parent Liaison is available to support parents in this meeting.
  • Parents are encouraged to follow-up with the school periodically, both during and after the treatment process.
  • Parents should ensure an IEP is in place for “medically fragile” students determined by the student’s individual needs (e.g. potential need for EA support, decreased course load, balancing courses in high school semesters, use of scribes, oral exams, use of laptops or iPads, photocopied notes, accommodations for physical education classes, extended time for tests, access to resource centre for classroom work or tests, etc.).
  • Candlelighters Simcoe can assist parents in requesting accommodation for or exemption from EQAO testing done in grades 3, 6, and 9.
  • Candlelighters Simcoe can help to ensure that home instruction is in place during the treatment process. A student may still attend school at times, but due to the treatment and side effects this may be sporadic. As such, having concurrent home instruction ensures a continued learning process.
  • Parents are encouraged to help older children self-advocate for their needs and wishes, particularly at the high school level.

Role of Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Representatives

SEAC representatives represent students with cancer on behalf of Candlelighters Simcoe at school board SEAC meetings on a monthly basis throughout the school year. Through our SEAC representation and school program, Candlelighters Simcoe has forged relationships with key personnel at the school board level. As a result of more than 20 years of community outreach, we have established rapport with school principals, vice principals, special education teachers, and classroom teachers. This building of community is important groundwork for the support and understanding needed when a student is diagnosed with cancer.