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Feeling sick, getting injured, being in strange surroundings, experiencing painful procedures, changes in routine and separation from family and friends can all add up to stress and anxiety for a child or teenager. Child Life staff members recognize that hospitalized children still need opportunities to just be kids. They help children and families cope with a hospital experience by providing emotional and developmental support, giving honest information geared to the child’s level of understanding and providing fun activities. The Child Life team works with medical and support staff to create a warm, child-friendly environment.
Child Life assists children and families through the following services:
Child Life specialists hold bachelors and/or master’s degrees in child life, child development, education, psychology or a related field. Required internships provide special training in the needs of hospitalized children and teenagers. Many Child Life specialists are professionally certified and affiliated with the national Child Life Council. Activity coordinators, trained in child development, organize patient play programs. Students enrolled in child life studies and community volunteers assist with play and support services.
Child Life staff members provide play opportunities to encourage interaction, independence, normalcy, understanding and creativity. These activities are an important way for children to work out their feelings and gain some control over their environment.
Through play, children express fear and anxiety, convey misconceptions, explore solutions to problems and showcase their personalities. Play can bring comfort and joy to a child facing the new and difficult challenges of a hospital stay
Child Life staff is assigned to most patient care areas in Cook Children's Medical Center. Parents and families should ask their nurse for referrals to a Child Life specialist or program.
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