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It can be scary for anyone in the hospital, but even more so for a child. Our Child Life specialists at Levine Children's Hospital work alongside doctors, nurses and families to help children cope while being in the hospital – and adding in a little bit of fun, whenever possible.

What is a Child Life specialist?

We are trained to provide social and emotional support for hospitalized children, helping explain hospital procedures and treatments in ways they can understand. We use medical play, videos and other distractions to make a child's experience feel safer and more normal, while restoring their sense of control.

As professionals trained to work with children in medical settings, each specialist has a bachelor's or master's degree in the areas of child life, child development, education or a related field. Certified Child Life specialists must successfully complete an internship and pass the certification exam. All Child Life specialists at Levine Children's Hospital are certified by the Child Life Council.

What do Child Life specialists do?

A Child Life specialist's main responsibilities are to:

  • Increase a child's understanding of their hospital experiences through the introduction of supervised medical play and preparation for procedures
  • Explain medical procedures in language a child can understand, using preparation books, dolls, computers and/or offering pre-op surgery tours
  • Offer support and distraction during medical procedures
  • Provide emotional support to patients and families
  • Help children discover ways to cope with illness, injury and/or the possibility of death
  • Provide support to families and patients during clinic treatments and procedures
  • Educate the family on their loved one's illness or injury
  • Offer play and art activities
  • Help school teachers and classmates understand a child's illness and/or injury
  • Offer grief support

Child Life Professional Programs

Are you interested in becoming a Child Life specialist? Find out more about Levine Children's Hospital's Child Life Professional Programs.