Child Life Program

What is the Child Life Program?

Certified Child Life Specialists provide evidence-based interventions to help children and families cope with illness and hospitalization. Based on child development, child life specialists help meet the social, emotional, and developmental needs of children in stressful situations to help them understand and handle their medical experiences.

Why are Child Life Services helpful?

Child Life Specialists are trained professionals who use play as a tool to help children cope with their diagnosis and treatment. Play is how children learn, develop, express themselves, and feel safe. When children are able to cope better, they can feel a sense of accomplishment, have an easier time handling treatment, and experience less distress before, during, and after medical experiences.

Child Life Services:

  • Diagnosis education:Specialists help the patient, sibling, or other young family members understand what is happening to their body at a level that they understand. As a child grows older, they help the patient understand the diagnosis and how it affects them in this stage of life.

  • Medical play: Provide a sense of control and mastery over medical experiences by giving a level of comfort with medical tools, along with helping the child to express emotions and misconceptions through play.

  • Therapeutic play:Help children cope by building a safe, fun environment that promotes their development.

  • Preparation and support for treatment: Help children understand what they will experience during medical procedures and treatments. Specialists will create a plan with the child and family that involves relaxation and distraction to ease pain and increase coping abilities during procedures.
  • Change and loss:Specialists help the child and family members cope with loss through appropriate explanations, therapeutic activities, and resources.

When to contact a Child Life Specialist?

  • After receiving a new diagnosis
  • Your child expresses fear or confusion
  • Difficulties with taking medication
  • Overall difficulty coping
  • Coping with end-of-life situations
  • Discussing diagnosis and treatment with child’s siblings
  • Your child has special needs
  • Preparation for a procedure or medical test
  • Anxiety expressed about medical procedures