Cleft and Craniofacial Team

The American Cleft Palate Association (ACPA) recommends a team approach to the treatment of cleft and craniofacial patients. It has created strict requirements to achieve certification as an ACPA-designated team.

The ACPA defines that the purpose of the Cleft and Craniofacial Team “is to ensure that care is provided in a coordinated and consistent manner with the proper sequencing of evaluations and treatments within the framework of the patient’s overall developmental, medical and psychological needs.” The Cleft and Craniofacial Team at Children’s is proud to be an ACPA-designated team.

The mission of the Cleft and Craniofacial Team at Children’s is to provide comprehensive care for patients with cleft lip and palate and craniofacial anomalies. Team care includes a collaborative evaluation and treatment planning by all of the specialists that will be active in caring for the patient throughout his/her childhood.

Structure and Elements of the Team

The Cleft and Craniofacial Team at Children’s takes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, which means each of our patients will be seen by multiple providers in one visit. This limits your trips to the clinic/hospital while allowing for better communication and collaboration between the specialists.

Your treatment team will include:

  • Craniofacial/plastic surgeons
  • Pediatric oral maxillofacial surgeons
  • Pediatric dentists
  • Pediatric orthodontists
  • Pediatric otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat)
  • Pediatric speech and language pathologists
  • Pediatric developmental psychologists
  • Pediatric neurosurgeons
  • Social worker
  • Physician’s assistants, a team coordinator, and nursing and support staff

What to Expect at Your Team Visit

Team visits take place on Wednesday mornings at 8 or 10 a.m. The length of the visit depends on the number of specialists you need to see and will last a maximum of two hours.

Families should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment time, and parents should bring photo ID and insurance cards.

The patient will have their medical history reviewed, vital signs taken and photographs and special 3D images completed. After photos, you will be placed in an exam room to be seen by each specialist separately.

During your visit, each provider will spend approximately 15-20 minutes with your family. They will explain their role on the team, evaluate your child and provide their immediate assessment and recommendations. You will be able to ask each provider questions.

After you have seen all of the providers required for your child’s needs, your visit will end.

What Happens After My Appointment?

After all appointments are completed for the day, the team meets in a conference room and discusses all of the providers’ individual assessments and recommendations for each patient evaluated that day. This allows the specialists to discuss and prioritize the patient’s immediate and long-term needs and coordinate the appropriate timing and sequence of any tests or procedures that are recommended.

We find that this team discussion is the most valuable component of the team concept, because families will frequently disclose critical pieces of information to only one or two providers that may change the entire treatment course. This is usually because the family forgets to tell some providers certain details or only remembers them later during the visit. Thus, the team format acts like a safety net to make sure the most important information from several visits is known by all providers.

After the patient’s plan is finalized a summary letter is generated and mailed out to you within two weeks of that visit date. This letter clearly defines the team’s plan for your child for the upcoming year (until the next team visit). If after receiving the letter there are any questions, our nurses are available by phone to clarify the plan or address any concerns you may have.