Community Programs

Two kids playing

There is more to the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH) than pediatric beds and state-of-the-art equipment.

UMCH is made up of dedicated professionals, skilled at addressing children's unique psychological, emotional and physical needs. That is why UMCH offers children and their families an array of special services, some of which can't be found at other area facilities.

From our headache clinic and pet visitation program to our pediatric emergency room, we do everything we can to make the UMCH experience a good one for our young patients.

The variety of our special programs reflects our concern about the total well-being of each child we care for. Because we realize that we don't care for our patients in a vacuum, we base our programs on education, outreach and family involvement.

ASK (Access for Special Kids) Program

Using the Medical Home model, ASK provides care coordination for families of children and youth with complex healthcare needs. ASK's goal is to simplify the lives of their patients and families and who see multiple specialists by providing support and access to resources. ASK serves as a single point of entry to the University of Maryland Medical Center and Children's Hospital Pediatric Specialists. Using a team approach in assisiting families with their child's medical condition, ASK links families, specialists, and primary care providers. The program also provides education to parents and children, helps parents to coordinate appointments, and connects them to community resources.

For more information, see our ASK Program Web site.

Baltimore Safe Kids Coalition

UMCH is the lead agency for the Baltimore Safe Kids Coalition, whose purpose is to prevent unintentional childhood injuries in Baltimore City. In partnering with Baltimore-area fire and police departments, the Maryland Poison Center and area health departments, we strive to make safety a top priority for our patients.

Most common childhood injuries are preventable. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14. That is why the Baltimore Safe Kids Coalition promotes safety awareness that focuses on avoiding dangerous situations and implementing injury-prevention strategies.

Children are at risk near any body of water, near many common household chemicals and when riding in automobiles. They are also at risk of choking on tiny objects, falling from ladders, chairs or other high surfaces and being injured in house fires. Even riding on bikes and scooters, rollerblading or playing on the playground requires safety measures.

Through its work, the coalition hopes to reduce the number of children visiting emergency rooms every year. Some of the coalition's safety efforts include an annual poster contest, safety fairs and regular child safety seat checks. Studies show that properly installing car safety seats and using seat belts correctly significantly reduce car-related fatalities and serious injuries.

The coalition is currently working on a grant-funded project to reduce Baltimore's childhood fire-related injuries and deaths.

For more information:

  • Contact the Baltimore Safe Kids Coalition at 410-328-7532 or
  • Visit their Web site


The UMCH Breathmobile is a custom-built pediatric asthma and allergy clinic that travels to almost two dozen schools, providing ongoing asthma and allergy care to children. The East Coast's first Breathmobile, it has provided ongoing asthma care to more than 600 children since 2002.

Inside the Breathmobile, there is a small waiting area, a testing area and two exam rooms. Onboard the Breathmobile, you'll find an asthma team that includes a pediatric allergist or pulmonologist, a pediatric nurse practitioner, a registered nurse and a driver.

For more information, see our Breathmobile Web site.

Maryland ExpressCare for Kids

Maryland ExpressCare for Kids is a program for children in need of emergency medical attention. ExpressCare team members transport young patients, by ground or air ambulance, from community hospitals to UMCH.

The first program of its kind in the region, Maryland ExpressCare was developed by Medical Center doctors and staff. The ExpressCare team is made up of nurses and paramedics trained in pediatrics. They use specialized equipment to monitor and stabilize young patients en route to UMCH.

ExpressCare delivers over 80 patients a month to UMCH, where they are admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), pediatric emergency room, or inpatient unit. Throughout the course of each patient's stay, PICU and inpatient doctors and nurses communicate closely with referring, community physicians.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

Neonatology staff with an infant

The Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) program prepares health care professionals to care for critically ill and injured infants and children. Developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, PALS courses instruct health care workers on the best ways to resuscitate and stabilize young patients.

PALS educates doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, hospital personnel and other allied health professionals on the special needs of infants, children and adolescents. The University of Maryland Medical Center was the first hospital in the state to set up its own PALS program, and was instrumental in the development of programs throughout the state.

Our experienced pediatric faculty members and staff use interactive case scenarios and hands-on emergency techniques to keep the PALS courses lively and informative. Courses are offered every month so that healthcare professionals can keep their skills up-to-date.

For more information about PALS, please contact Karen Hardingham at 410-328-7532 or email her at

Course Registration:

Pediatric AIDS Program (PACE)

The University of Maryland Children's Hospital's Pediatric AIDS Program (PACE) offers a safe environment in which access to state-of-the-art care is available to HIV infected and affected children. The PACE Program is a comprehensive HIV care program providing HIV counseling and testing, well-child care, specialized pediatric immunologic care, case management, developmental pediatrics, pediatric psychology, mental health treatment, child life services, access to research and clinical trials, social work services, addiction counseling, nutrition consultation and outreach to families affected by HIV disease.

Services are tailored to clients' needs and are responsive to consumer feedback and emerging needs in the local epidemic. Our program is designed to address the unmet service needs of populations disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

Charitible contributions to PACE are needed to fund program enhancements, ensuring comprehensive medical care for young HIV patients in an environment supportive of children and their families. To make a donation, please call the UMMS Foundation at (410) 328-5770, or visit the UMMS Foundation Web site.

Pediatric Palliative Care

The University of Maryland Children's Hospital's Pediatric Palliative Care Committee is an interdisciplinary committee comprised of doctors, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, and spiritual care providers. We have a two-fold mission:

  • To advocate for and promote the development of comprehensive, family-centered care for all pediatric patients who have a life-threatening condition.
  • To provide for comprehensive bereavement care for all families of pediatric patients on the Pediatric Unit, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the Intermediate Care Unit, and the Pediatric Emergency Department.

Pediatric palliative care is family-centered care, which incorporates:

  • Complete, timely and understandable information about diagnosis, prognosis, treatments (including risks and benefits) and care options.
  • Early and ongoing discussion of care goals and preferences.
  • Effective and timely prevention, assessment and treatment of physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms.
  • Competent, fair, and compassionate clinical management of end-of-life decisions.
  • Comprehensive bereavement care when appropriate.

Each year, in the spring, the committee presents a Memorial Service to honor the children and youth we've cared for who have died. All bereaved families, friends and staff are invited to participate. For details, call 410-328-7752.

Contact Info

If you are interested in contacting the UM Children's Hospital's Pediatric Palliative Care Committee or would like more information, please call 410-328-7752.

If you are interested in supporting the development of this program, please call 410-328-5608.

Pet Visitation Program

Not all of UMCH's visitors have two legs! Inpatients are treated to regular visits from some special four-footed friends as part of a pet visitation program.

UMCH strives to treat the whole child, both physically and mentally. The pet visitation program helps meet this goal. Animals can have a soothing and positive effect on children. A visit from a dog can increase a child's optimism, and even improve morale, ultimately making the patient feel much better.

Before a dog is allowed into the hospital, the animal must be evaluated by a veterinarian to make sure it is healthy, up-to-date on vaccinations and well tempered. A dog will only be allowed inside a child's hospital room if the parents, doctors and nurses have approved the visit. The majority of patients are delighted by a dog's visit. Their faces light up when they see a wagging tail headed their way.

Anyone interested in enrolling their dog in the Pet Visitation Program can call Pets on Wheels at 410-783-2424.

Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read is a pediatric practice-based program that gives children access to books early in their lives. Our pediatricians work with families so that their children can develop preliteracy skills and a love for books before they start school.

Research shows that reading, writing and speech skills are intimately linked, and that these skills develop early in life. Research also shows that reading out loud to children is the single most important activity that parents can do to enhance language skills and reading ability.

Families living in poverty, however, often lack the resources to read to their young children. They may not be able to afford books or they may simply not know the benefits of early reading.

Pediatricians who participate in the Reach Out and Read program advise parents on the importance of preschool reading. Each child in the program receives brand new, age and culturally appropriate books each time their parents bring them in for well-child visits.

Reach Out and Read was started as a pilot project at the Boston Medical Center in the late 1980s. It now includes some 1,300 pediatrics practices nationwide. The University of Maryland Pediatric Ambulatory Center has been a Reach Out and Read site since 1997. We were the site of the kickoff for the first regional program in the nation. There were ten Baltimore practices participating in the program then. Now, there are 23 practices in Baltimore.

To find out more about this program, or to make a donation of cash or books, call 410-706-3100. To become a volunteer reader, contact June Winkler, Director of Volunteer Services, at 410-328-5600.

Safe Haven

In an effort to save the lives of unwanted infants, the University of Maryland Children's Hospital is declaring itself a "Safe Haven," a place where parents can safely abandon their babies. Maryland was the 38th state to institute a Safe Haven law, allowing a parent to anonymously abandon a newborn baby without fear of prosecution, as long as the baby is left with a responsible adult, such as a priest, lawyer, or physician, or at an appropriate place, such as a hospital or firehouse.

The Safe Haven program at University of Maryland Children's Hospital will provide a safe place for women in crisis to bring their infant (up to three days old) without fear of legal repercussions. They can also call 1-800-243-7337. It is a completely anonymous and confidential process. The infant will be given medical care if needed and then be referred to Child Protective Services.

For more information, call Catherine Hewitt, a clinical social worker with the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, at 410-328-0841.

Stork's Nest

Mother and Child

Stork's Nest is a program that helps babies get a healthy start in life. Nearly half a million women fail to get the adequate prenatal and infant care they need each year. Stork's Nest educates women about the importance of taking care of themselves and their babies. The program also encourages them to seek medical attention both before and after delivery to ensure their babies' healthy development.

As part of the Stork's Nest program, young mothers at risk for premature delivery earn points each time they visit their doctors. They can use these points towards obtaining free maternity and baby clothing, nursery items, car seats and diapers. They are also rewarded for attending and bringing fathers to parenting classes, breastfeeding, following through on all of their well-baby visits and making sure their babies get all of their immunizations.

Established in Atlanta in 1971, Stork's Nest is a collaborative project of the March of Dimes and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Our Stork's Nest program is one of 100 across the United States. We work with young women and low-income women at several of our community clinics, including University of Maryland Women's Health at Edmondson Village, Western-Penn, UCare at Open Gates and UCare Westside.

For more information about UMCH or to make an appointment, please call 1-866-408-6885 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).

This page was last updated: December 31, 2014

Average rating (4)