Riley Hospital’s School Program helps teen mom graduate while caring for son in NICU

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Imagine being a teenager with a child in the NICU for almost a year. One Fort Wayne 18-year-old had to put her life and education on hold and move to Indianapolis to be by her son’s side. During that tough time in her life, she still was able to get motivated and receive her degree.

Riley Hospital for Children is a second home for mom Shyann Hines. Friday, her son had a simple procedure. But, it’s been a long two years of surgeries and appointments.

“King was a sick baby,” said Hines.

Looking back at pictures she says, it seems like just yesterday.

“I just knew I had to be there by his side. I just had to do it,” said Hines.

She gave birth to King in January 2017. He had to be flown to Riley Hospital due to several complications. He stayed in the NICU for eight months. Her son’s health became her number one priority. Her education had fallen behind.

That’s until Hines met with a consultant at the hospital to tell her about the different programs that were offered.

“She was like are you still in school? I’m like, I can’t go back to school,” said Hines.

The consultant then told Hines about what’s called the School Program. Lindsay Dewilde is an Educational Liaison with the program.

“We make sure they have all the resources they need to complete their homework,” said Liaison. “Whether that’s a laptop to borrow or we have an actual classroom we can take them to.”

The School Program supports students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“Having a baby, it’s a lot of new responsibility and they still are motivated enough to complete their homework. We’re always so proud of them,” said Dewilde.

According to the School Program informational web page, here is a list of what is provided:

  • Contacting your child’s regular classroom teacher to coordinate assignments while he/she is hospitalized. Assignments can be faxed to our office at 317.948.4588 or scanned/e-mailed to your child’s educational liaison.
  • Providing 1:1 or small group tutoring, as medically appropriate.
  • Submitting attendance cards to schools at discharge.
  • Facilitating home bound services for qualified students who cannot return to the classroom for 20 school days or more.
  • Helping to provide schools with any needed documentation for an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. Will your child be returning to school with restrictions, modifications, or in need of any accommodations? We help provide education to you, as well as your child’s school, on this process.
  • Offering supportive services to families and schools in hopes of ensuring a smooth transition for your child back to home and school. Please ask your educational liaison about these programs:
    • The Bear in the Chair Program
    • REACH/Re-entry
    • Case-Conferences

With a staff of certified teachers, they’re able to help kids or moms like Hines stay on track during tough times.

“She was like, ‘it’s only an hour’ and I’m like, ‘oh I can do an hour.’ Anybody can do an hour,” said Hines.

Providing one-on-one or small group tutoring, Hines stuck with her homework. She was able to graduate high school on time.

“I just felt like a big relief because that’s just one thing off my slate.”

Her diploma now has a little more meaning behind it, because she achieved her goal, right next to King’s side.

“I named him King for a reason. He’s going to be king one day,” said Hines.

Click here to learn more about the School Program offered by Riley Hospital for Children.