Child Life

girl plays with blocks in Child Life Services

As a parent, you may feel anxious or have a lot of questions during your visit. At Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Child Life will support your family every step of the way.

Child Life helps patients and families address the emotional and developmental aspects of a child’s hospital visit. Child life specialists are trained to understand the unique concerns and needs of pediatric patients’ and their families.

They know how to help children understand their medical condition and procedure. They give parents a brief respite during a long hospital stay. And they love answering questions.

Our child life team is ready to help in many ways — whether that means using medical play to help a child understand an upcoming surgery, or providing them with play activities as a distraction during a test or procedure.

Child life specialists are available for patients throughout Children’s, including:

  • Inpatient units
  • Radiology
  • Hematology/Oncology Clinic and Infusion Center
  • Outpatient surgery at CARES (Children’s Ambulatory Recovery and Express Services)
  • Emergency Department

Pet Therapy

For children, the ability to interact with a certified therapy dog can have a very positive impact upon their quality of life. Interacting with a pet can sometimes enhance recovery following a serious illness. Certified canine visitors come to Children’s every Thursday morning for about two hours to visit our patients. Therapy dogs meet infection control guidelines, and are escorted to the patient rooms by a Child Life Specialist.

Our Facility Dog, Sven, assists with calming children, medical play and demonstrations, and sibling support.

Services We Offer

Child life specialists are ready to help patients and families by:

  • Providing patients with opportunities for developmentally-appropriate play during an inpatient stay or outpatient visit
  • Offering developmental support, including:
    • Performing developmental assessments of fine and gross motor skills, as well as language, cognitive, and social development
    • Creating individual play plans designed to help your child reach developmental goals
  • Helping children cope before, during, and after a trip to the hospital, getting a diagnosis, receiving treatment, or having surgery
  • Supporting siblings by providing developmentally appropriate explanations and coping tools
  • Providing assistance and resources to help children understand and cope with the death of a loved one
  • Helping children prepare to return to school after a long absence due to an illness or hospital stay

“Your children are among the greatest delights of my life. I watch these youngsters face their disease every day and bounce back with laughter, imagination, and amazing courage.”

—Christy Hogan, CCLS, Child Life Specialist, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

What To Do Next

For more information about Child Life at Children’s, call 402-955-5322 during normal business hours.

Your child’s nurse or other care team members can also connect you with a child life specialist.

More information: playroom guidelines

For more information about Child Life:

Call Nikki Walker, Lead Child Life Specialist


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