Child Life Program

Reducing the trauma and stress of children and families during their experience with the hospital is the primary goal and mission of Child Life.

About Child Life

A Child Life Specialist (CLS) is specially trained and certified to assist children of all ages and their families understand and cope with illness, injury, treatment, hospitalization and the overall health care experience free of charge. Child Life specialists work to provide a safe environment for children to ask questions and express their emotions. The services are designed to help children and their families become familiar with the hospital environment and reduce fears associated with a hospital stay or visit. Child Life uses play as a primary tool to reduce anxiety, teach, and promote development and coping.

The following are interventions offered by Child Life staff:

Education
Children are often afraid of the unknown. Child life staff can provide age appropriate information and education that impacts the child while in the hospital. From what the rooms look like to how something sounds or feels. A new diagnosis can be frightening and confusing for parents and children. Child life assists the entire family in helping know what this means and how to deal with it.
 
Distraction/Relaxation
If you see bubbles floating out of a patient room don’t be alarmed. A Child Life Specialist may be using distraction as a way to reduce the anxiety involved with an IV start or other medical procedure. Children of all ages often experience anxiety when faced with a medical procedure. Distraction and relaxation interventions can facilitate children coping with their hospital experience. Child Life staff meet the child and the family, and assess their understanding and previous experiences to figure out a plan to help reduce that anxiety.
 
Play/Normalization
Arriving at the hospital can be a scary experience for children. Seeing a play area or having a favorite toy brought into the room is a great way to reduce anxiety and increase comfort for a child. A Child Life Specialist provides developmentally appropriate play opportunities to children and their families. They also provide medical play; designed to provide a non-threatening environment for children to use medical equipment, desensitize to the normal tools used in the hospital and gain control back. Child Life uses therapeutic play as a way to help children work through their emotions around being in the hospital. Child Life also provides play opportunities in the activity room as a way to stimulate normal development and plain old fun!
 
Surgery Tours
Many families and children are curious about the surgery process. If your child is scheduled for surgery you can call the Child Life Department to learn more about the surgery process. The Child Life Specialist will show you around the surgery areas and explain expectations for the day of surgery from a child’s perspective. Children are given the opportunity to ask questions and explore materials/supplies that will be part of their surgery experience. This “show and tell” often reduces the anxiety around what will happen at the hospital. Please call 907-212-2817 to speak with our surgery specialist. Tours are only currently offered by appointment.
 
Therapeutic Art
Building friendship bracelets with beads, creating picture frames, experimenting with blow pens, and coloring are just a few of the therapeutic activities provided by Child Life. Medical equipment is also used for art to help desensitize children to the things that are used in the hospital setting. The Child Life staff maintain an activity room for inpatients and families to utilize during their stay at The Children’s Hospital. Child Life Specialists can provide bedside activities for children during their stay. Art and craft activities are provided as a therapeutic tools for dealing with anxiety, emotional expression, and fun.
 
Volunteers
Children’s Hospital volunteers are an integral part of Child Life service delivery. Our volunteers visit from room to room providing a playmate for a child or sibling. You may find our volunteers reading stories, taking a walk with a patient, rocking a baby, cleaning toys and play areas, and helping out with special events. Child Life is happy to help families connect with a volunteer to help make their hospital stay smoother. To volunteer on pediatrics you must be 18 years of age and be able to commit to 4 hours per week for one year or 200 hours. If you are interested in volunteering on the Pediatrics please contact Volunteer Services at 907-212-3818.

Donations
Children’s Hospital welcomes donations of new items. Due to HIPAA regulations and for the safety of our patients and visitors our hospital does not allow donors to visit with patients or families. Please call 907-212-8228 to set up a time for a drop off with one of our staff or you may drop them off at the welcome desk anytime. View the latest wish list for kids at The Children's Hospital at Providence.

Students
Students are welcome at Providence. Our practicum placements are available in the summer only. The Child Life department is currently offering a fall and spring internship. Only students who have completed the necessary requirements by the child life council are eligible for internship placement and must be in their final semester or completed their degree. Please e-mail Rosie Price at rosemary.price@providence.org for an application.

NICU Sibling Assessment and Preparation
Please contact the NICU Child Life Specialist at 907-212-8216 to arrange a time for your child(ren) to visit your new baby in the NICU. Siblings will be provided opportunities to see, touch and learn on a doll about what they will see on your baby and how to interact with the new baby while at the hospital. Please leave a message with your baby’s last name and a number to reach you if we do not answer and we will return your call.

School at the Hospital​
Children’s Hospital has it's own teacher! Child Life works closely with our hospital based school teacher. School is so important to maintaining normalcy while in the hospital and as children go back home. To contact the teacher regarding school concerns, developmental referrals or if your child is going to be in the hospital more than 5 days, please contact her directly at 907-212-2503.

All of these services are provided through the generosity of funding from our community.