Eligibility and Evaluation Process for the Inpatient Feeding Program

The Feeding Program at CHOC Children’s is intended for children who have had feeding therapy on an outpatient basis and is not used as a first treatment. Children can be referred by a physician, feeding therapist or may be self-referred by a legal guardian. Referrals are accepted through email at feedingprogram@choc.org or by phone at (714)-509-4884.

Children accepted into the program typically meet the following criteria:

  • The child is between the ages of 2 and 6, and has a developmental level of at least 24 months.
  • The child can safely swallow food.
  • A gastroenterologist has evaluated the child’s feeding problems and medical problems related to feeding have been ruled out or treated with medication or surgery.
  • Child is adequately nourished.
  • Child’s feeding problems have resulted in significant growth problems and/or G-Tube placement and/or the child is currently being considered for G-Tube placement.
  • Child has received outpatient or in-home feeding therapy for at least six months.
  • Child continues to have significant feeding problems or requires G-Tube feeding after outpatient therapy.
  • The child’s family is willing and able to arrange for one primary caregiver (parent or legal guardian) to stay with the child during the entire 19-day inpatient hospitalization.

Referrals are reviewed and appropriate candidates are contacted by the feeding program department assistant and scheduled for an appointment to be seen in the Feeding Clinic by a gastroenterologist or nurse practitioner.

Patients found to be good candidates by the gastroenterology team are scheduled for a two-hour outpatient evaluation and consultation with the multidisciplinary feeding team. The feeding program’s outpatient evaluation allows for a thorough review of what has contributed to children’s feeding problems. This multidisciplinary approach provides the feeding team with an overview of the child’s feeding issues and allows the team to consider all aspects of the child’s behavior into the treatment program.

Evaluations typically result in one of the following:

  • Families are given recommendations from the multidisciplinary team of how to progress their child’s feeding. The recommendations can include referrals to an outpatient feeding therapy, nutritional suggestions, medical recommendations, behavioral strategies and other referrals.The patient and his or her caregivers may be given tasks to complete and rescheduled for a follow-up team evaluation and consideration for the inpatient program.
  • The patient may be determined to be appropriate for the inpatient feeding therapy program.

If the child does not live in the Southern California region, the feeding team may have conversations with the child’s caregivers via Skype or telephone to decide if the family should make the trip to CHOC for the outpatient evaluation.

Patients who are found to be good candidates for the inpatient-feeding program will then coordinate with the team to decide upon a date and appropriate goals for admission. Insurance authorization must be obtained prior to admission.