Child Life Services

Developmental and Psychosocial Support for Children in the Hospital

Illness, injury, and hospitalization are stressful for children and families. We know that treating the physical aspects of a medical condition is only half the battle—we need to support the developmental, emotional, and psychosocial needs of our patients as well. The Child Life Services Department focuses on improving the well-being of children and families while they undergo medical care.

The Child Life Services Department provides:

  • Opportunities for children to play games and have fun to relieve stress and anxiety and to express feelings around hospitalization and illness
  • Pre-operative and procedure preparation and an explanation of medical procedures for patients and families in ways they can understand
  • Distraction during painful procedures through instruction and rehearsal of relaxation and coping techniques for pain and uncomfortable procedures
  • Play and activities that support cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development and normalize hospitalization
  • Emotional support for patients, siblings, and parents, including support for grief and loss
  • Education for parents and staff on child development and how to support children during hospitalization
  • Behavioral and coping techniques to support compliance and cooperation with medical procedures
  • Organizing special events and celebrations to mark holidays and other important life occasions

Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialists lead the effort to provide developmental, psychosocial, and emotional support to children and families in the hospital. They are trained in child and adolescent development to design and implement interventions that help patients cope with hospitalization and illness. These interventions include developmentally appropriate preparation and education, procedural support, and a wide range of therapeutic and expressive activities

Child Life Assistants

Child Life Assistants primarily plan and run our inpatient playroom activities. They partner with Child Life Specialists and engage children and families in play to provide respite from the hospital environment. They also provide bedside play and activities for those patients and siblings confined to their rooms.

Art Therapists

Art therapy helps patients alleviate stress and forget about the difficulties of illness, injury, and hospitalization by engaging them in creative activities. Creating and reflecting on art can help patients cope with medical symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences. It also enhances cognitive abilities and provides them with a life-affirming experience.

Our art therapist is trained in how to apply art in a medical context. This is not just an arts and crafts project, it is a program specially designed to support development, mental health, spiritual growth, and appeal to multicultural traditions.