Josh Cares was born out of the tragic loss of a beloved child, Josh Helfrich. Josh was a ten year-old boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a bicycling accident in 2004 at the age of ten. Josh was treated at Cincinnati Children’s for several days prior to his death. While by his side every moment, his family noticed there were many other children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit who did not receive a single visit the entire time they were there. Following his death, the Helfrich family, along with Dan and Lynn Pierce, established the Child Life Fellowship Program in 2005 with the goal of ensuring that no critically ill child endures a lengthy hospitalization alone, feeling afraid and abandoned. The program began with 2 annual fellows in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and has grown to 6 positions serving patients in all critical and chronic care units of the hospital, including the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
In 2011, a permanent senior level position was established to provide team leadership and community outreach support. In the fall of 2012, all five annual fellowship positions were converted to minimum two year terms with the opportunity for the most exemplary and passionate fellows to remain with the program long term. The term “Fellow” has been removed from their title and renamed: Josh Cares Child Life Specialists.