Social service

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Clinical social workers help families cope with the stress of hospitalization, illness or injury. We are specially trained to counsel families, advocate for them, assess patient and family psychosocial needs, provide various forms of counselling (crisis, therapeutic, group work, mediation, and grief), assist with helping patients transition to home, and educate and link families to community and government resources.
Working in partnership with the child’s healthcare team, our members are assigned to the medical and surgical units, trauma service, pediatric intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care unit, mental health service, the emergency department, and the various out-patient clinics. The social worker’s goal is to enhance the family’s health, social functioning and well-being. We are committed to providing family-centered services while guided by our core professional values of a family’s right to self-determination, respect for beliefs and practices of multiculturalism, the protection and safety of all children and families, interdisciplinary collaboration and open communication.

The department provides 14-hour coverage, seven days a week. Regular hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; on-call services are provided for emergencies weekdays from 4:30 to 11:00 p.m., and weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Access to the on-call social worker is facilitated through the treating healthcare professional or through the hospital operator.

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Our goal

The social worker’s goal is to promote a family’s health, social functioning and well-being. Services are provided in a family centred manner, dictated by our core values of compassionate and culturally sensitive beliefs, which embrace:

  • the worth and dignity of all families
  • the sanctity of human relationships
  • the protection and safety of all children and their families
  • a family’s right to self-determination
  • interdisciplinary collaboration and open communication
  • excellence of care, integrity and social justice

Our code of ethics

Our social workers abide by a standard of practice, which adheres to the Quebec Social Workers’ Code of Ethics. For more information on the content of the Codevof Ethics, please click on the links below:

Quebec Code of Ethics
Order of Social Workers (Quebec)

Our core commitments

  • Accountability
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Respect
  • Safety
Our history

Recognizing the link between children’s health and their home environment, The Montreal Children’s became the first hospital in Canada to establish a Social Service Department in 1926. The department subsequently closed during the war years, as social workers were required to help in the war effort. It reopened in 1947, and it has been expanding and developing since, in accordance with changes in the hospital program, increasing interest in the comprehensive care of the child and government aid in establishing special services for the rehabilitation of children with specific illnesses and physical disabilities.

Our services

Why you may need our services

  • Child’s and family’s adjustment to illness and treatment
  • Child’s problems that may arise due to his/her illness at school or with other children
  • Periods of stress that you may experience as a result of your child’s illness
  • Feelings of sadness and loss
  • Parenting issues and concerns about your ability to cope
  • Financial difficulties created by your child’s illness or stay in hospital
  • Concerns that you or your child may be at risk of emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Concerns about communication with your healthcare team
  • Follow-up support for your child and family at home

How we can help

A social worker will strive to understand your situation and the difficulties you face. Together, you will identify the problems you want to solve and you will work closely to develop a plan to achieve a solution. Some ways our social workers will help, include:

  • Supporting you during periods of crisis
  • Offering individual counselling for children and teens
  • Helping you access hospital and community resources to meet your specific needs
  • Providing support groups
  • Advocating for you in the hospital and in the community
  • Arranging for accommodations for out-of-town patients and families
  • Helping to plan your child’s discharge and care at home
  • Providing service following your child’s discharge
Our team

Our team of 21 social workers partner with healthcare teams across The Montreal Children’s Hospital to best serve patients and families. Within the department they are divided among these three areas of focus:

  • Acute Care: provides crisis intervention for cases such as cardiology care, intensive care and emergency care;
  • Chronic Care: provides care for long-term/life-long medical issues such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis and cystic fibrosis;
  • Mental Health and Adolescent Medicine: provides outpatient services in cases such as anxiety, mood disorders and autism. We also admit patients presenting with extreme psychosis.

Social workers are also active members of multiple hospital-based committees, programs and other services.

We teach

Every year our Social Service team teaches new medical students to recognize the maltreatment of children, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse. They also educate this next generation of healthcare professionals about the ways they can use The Montreal Children’s Hospital’s Social Services department in their practice, and take in interns from local universities on an annual basis. In addition, they meet with international students and explain the Canadian and Quebec youth protection laws; they act as guest speakers for the McGill University Social Work Faculty and at the Argyle Institute; and they provide outreach services to the community, where resources are discussed, such as youth protection.

Helping our families in need

Helping our families in need

Having a child in the hospital can create more than mere emotional difficulties. Families can also face financial hardship in cases where a parent must stop working temporarily or permanently to care for their child. In these cases, social workers conduct a financial assessment to establish whether they qualify for financial support. The Montreal Children’s Foundation can at times provide help with such things as:

  • Meal tickets
  • Accommodation for out of town families

From pediatric to adult care, we are there

Once they reach their 18th birthday, some patients will transition from receiving care at The Montreal Children’s Hospital to the adult hospitals of the McGill University Health Centre. These patients have chronic illnesses, such as heart and kidney problems. In partnership with departmental directors, our social workers help transition young adults to adult care. This includes meeting the new physician with the patient and also coordinating the transfer of the individual’s medical file and other information that must be relayed. Social workers are also available to these young adults should they have any questions or concerns during the transition.


Are you interested in a career in social work? Field placements are open to candidates from Canada. Applicants must be bilingual (French/English). The program includes clinical supervision.

If you are interested in doing a field placement or joining the Social Work team at The Montreal Children’s Hospital please contact:

Helen Kastanis at or 514-412-4400, ext. 22087

As a team member, goal setting and ongoing professional development are just part of what makes The Montreal Children’s Hospital Social Service department an ever evolving and inspiring place to work. Team spirit and high morale also play a huge role in describing who we are.

Contact us

A member of your child’s or teenager’s healthcare team may suggest putting you in touch with a social worker from the Social Services Department. You can also request this service yourself by speaking with your child’s doctor or nurse.

Social Services can be contacted directly at:

For Emergencies call the hospital operator at:

  • 514-412-4400 (Ask for the Social Worker on call, who is available until 11 p.m. daily)

The Social Services Department is located in the third floor of the A-wing at The Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Please note: Social workers at The Montreal Children’s Hospital assist patients who attend the hospital’s clinics or who are hospitalized. Others will be referred to appropriate resources available in the community.

Refer a patient 

Room: B S1.2018, Glen site

514-412-4455, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Fax: 514-938-7689

After hours emergencies: 514-412-4400 until 11 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekends (when speaking with the operator, request for the social worker on call)