The Pediatric Chaplains Network began in 1995 as a pre-conference gathering of pediatric chaplains that met in conjunction with the Association for the Care of Children’s Health (ACCH) annual conference, an interdisciplinary group. The gathering came about as the result of an informal meeting the year before (1994) at the ACCH Conference in Toronto, Canada. The Network was officially organized in 1997 and was received as an affiliate organization of ACCH at that time.
When the ACCH dissolved as an organization, the PCN established itself as an independent group. The PCN incorporated in the fall of 1999 and was received as a member organization in the Coalition on Ministry in Specialized Settings (COMISS) in December 1999. Chaplains from a variety of children’s health care facilities and organizations are members of the Network. Each year the PCN sponsors the PCN Forum (renamed the PCN National Conference in 2011) designed to offer chaplains an opportunity to share ideas and hear presentations that will enhance their ministry.
A New Era – Incorporation as an Independent Organization
When the PCN became aware that ACCH would be disbanding for financial reasons, the pediatric chaplains voted in November 1999 to reform as an independent, non-profit corporation, chartered in the State of Texas. The membership adopted by-laws, a code of ethics, and a set of competencies for pediatric chaplains at that time. Membership was set at $65 per calendar year. The PCN had 37 dues-paying members in 2000. In July of 2000, the PCN held its first independent conference at the San Pedro Catholic Retreat Center with 35 chaplains registered and continuing education units granted by both NACC and APC.
Wilbert Foundation Grants
The Wilbert Foundation of Chicago, with logistical assistance from the PCN, began providing grants in 2004 to Pastoral Care Departments at children’s hospitals around the country. The Foundation was created by the Wilbert Corporation, the nation’s largest provider of burial supplies, as a way to give back to their communities. The Foundation wanted to provide financial resources for grief and bereavement support. A consultant for the Foundation identified pediatric chaplains as an under- served profession regarding philanthropic support from foundations.
The Pediatric Chaplains Institute
Wanting to do more for the cause of pediatric chaplaincy, the Wilbert Foundation asked the PCN in 2006 to submit a list of possible special projects. A list of five potential projects was developed by the PCN Advisory Council and proposed to the Foundation. In December 2006, the Foundation informed the PCN Advisory Council that it had decided to provide a grant of $50,000 for the largest and most expensive project – the creation of an ongoing national training event for pediatric chaplaincy. This project eventually became known as the Pediatric Chaplains Institute (PCI). A curriculum development team of 12 experienced PCN chaplains created the PCI curriculum in a span of six months and the first annual PCI training was held in October 2007.