Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is an essential tool for guiding end-of-life care decisions for people of any age. The IDPH POLST form is the same for both children and adults. However, when it comes to using POLST in the pediatric population, healthcare professionals and families should be aware of some important and unique considerations. The POLST Illinois Committee has developed the content of this page to highlight best practices for conducting advance care planning and POLST discussions in the pediatric population.


POLST Discussions with the Pediatric Population

The Family Advisory Council of the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition of California, along with key pediatric palliative care providers, have developed recommendations about discussing Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment with families of seriously ill children.

National POLST Collaborative: POLST in Pediatrics Video Series for Healthcare Professionals

Pediatrics and POLST: Let’s Talk POLST (2012) - Dr. Gina Mohr makes a case for a team-based approach to POLST, stating its strengths as an approach to patient- and family-centric care. From the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

Pediatrics and POLST: POLST Why & When? (2012) - Dr. Gina Mohr emphasizes the central importance of conversation to using POLST for children with chronic conditions or life-threatening illness. From the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

POLST: A Mother’s Perspective (2012) - A mother speaks frankly about the loss of her newborn child and what could have made her experience with POLST be more positive during such a sensitive time. From the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

Pediatric Palliative Care Webinars for Purchase

Since 2018, the Pediatric Palliative Care Webinar Series has been providing high quality educational programming for the entire interdisciplinary team. Several past webinars dealing with advance care planning and POLST are available for viewing.

These recorded webinars can be used for individual or group staff training, interdisciplinary team meetings or anytime your organization needs convenient access to experts on advance care planning in the pediatric population.

Webinar recordings are available for purchase at a minimal cost. Upon purchase, you will receive a link to download the video. That link/video is yours to keep. There is no time limit on viewing. For more information email [email protected].

POLST Illinois - Guidance for Healthcare Professionals

POLST, a national, evidence-based program, embraces an informed decision-making model that uses a standardized form containing practitioner orders to communicate the scope of emergency medical treatment determined by patient preferences. POLST Illinois has developed “Guidance Document for Illinois Health Care Professionals and Providers” to help health care practitioners use the POLST Model with patients of any age and their families.


Go Wish Card Game by Coda Alliance

End-of-life discussions are challenging, especially where a child and their parent/s are concerned. The Go Wish card game was developed to empower easier, earlier end-of-life conversations. It can help healthcare professionals or families start a more comfortable conversation and empower patients of any age to choose their own way – in life, and at the end-of-life. The cards are available for purchase in English and Spanish on this site below, as well as links to partner sites for additional language versions.

Advance Care Planning Workbooks for Children and Teens: My Wishes and Voicing My Choices

These workbooks empower children andteens living with a serious illness to communicate to family, friends, and caregivers about how they want to be comforted, supported, treated, and remembered.

The Courageous Parents Network: Video Guide for Parents on Preparing for End-of-Life

Considering a child’s death is very challenging, but it is important for parents and other close caregivers to address this possibility as soon as feasible after an initial diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening illness. As part of preparation for end-of-life, parents -with input from their child when possible- will need to make important decisions.

Included in this Guide are some of the questions a family might face. Please be aware that some of the content in this Guide is difficult for parents to absorb. The Guide is structured so that parents can choose the areas that feel relevant, and tailor their experience with the material. Some of the material may not apply to every child.