About Child Life
A Child Life Specialist works with patients and families to reduce the stress and anxiety that may be associated with the health care experience. Our specialists help to ease fears and concerns by providing opportunities for developmentally appropriate play and interaction, therapeutic play and psychological preparation.
Members of our child life staff hold degrees and training in the growth and development of children. They provide age-appropriate information to help children cope with the hospital and prepare them emotionally for invasive procedures and surgery. Techniques include diagnosis education and support, medical play and psychological preparation.
Child Life at Covenant Children’s
At Covenant Children’s, specially trained Child Life Specialists make up part of the multidisciplinary team that makes a children's hospital unique. Each of these trained specialists is knowledgeable in the application of theories of child development, play, stress and coping, and the family systems that make up the basis of our work with children. Each of the specialists is bachelors prepared and has completed a semester long practicum and an additional semester long internship to prepare them for the work they do with sick children. In addition, the Child Life Specialists working at Covenant Children’s have passed rigorous certification exams.
The Child Life program at Covenant Children’s is committed to excellence in its efforts to provide effective psychosocial support to its patients. The Child Life Program provides developmentally appropriate play, informative and reassuring psychological preparation before and during procedures, and helps children plan and rehearse coping skills. It is part of the interdisciplinary and family-centered model of care, collaborating with the health care team to develop a plan of care with families. The Child Life team develops a plan of care that is based on a child's perception and understanding of the anticipated experience with the goal of enhancing their ability to cope. They teach children coping strategies for adjusting to life-changing injury, offer non-pharmacologic pain-management techniques, and communicate the child's developmental and individual needs to the care team.
Procedural Preparation and Support
Surgery can be a very frightening experience for a child. The child will be separated from familiar surroundings and must deal with "strange and different" events. Many children do not have the life experience to understand what type of events will be taking place and why they are necessary. Some children even view the medical experience as a form of punishment. When they sense changes to their world, they can often fantasize reasons for the changes. These can be more frightening to them than the truth. Offering just the right amount of careful, honest preparation before surgery can help a child or teen cope more positively with these experiences, and make surgery and hospitalization better for all.
Click here to find out how to prepare for surgery at Covenant Children's
Child Life Specialists value play as an essential, natural part of childhood – important in its own right. Play facilitates healing, coping, mastery, self-expression, creativity, achievement and learning, and is vital to a child's optimal growth and development. Play is an integral aspect in the practice of Child Life. Play is an important part of the way a child learns about the world. During times of stress, such as hospitalization or medical treatment, play can provide a safe and familiar outlet for a child's emotions. This helps the child cope more positively with the experience while promoting development and independence. The Child Life staff strongly encourages play in the hospital as a vital part of the recovery process.
Child life specialists work with patients to help them adapt to their surroundings. They can be found playing with children in the playrooms or helping create an artistic masterpiece with glitter and glue. Older patients enjoy a board game, video game, iPAD, or a lesson on the computer.
Child Life Specialists also work to support families, to help them to cope with the challenges of parenting their sick child, and the siblings who are often scared or lonely as they too try to understand and cope. They work as part of the multidisciplinary team to bring understanding and perspective. Child Life specialists are an essential part of what makes a children's hospital unique.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the provision of Child Life Services is a quality benchmark of an integrated child health delivery system and an indicator of excellence in pediatric care. Child Life programs and the kind of services they provide are an essential component of family-centered care.
Brothers and sisters are important and are invited to come visit their sibling who is in the hospital. Child Life Specialist’s at Covenant Children are available and eager to accompany siblings visiting in the PICU for the first time. We strive to help them to understand the illness or injury as well as the strange and unfamiliar equipment they are seeing. The Child Life specialist can help answer their questions in ways they can understand and give them opportunities to express their concerns and feelings.
Child Life Students
Our Child Life staff consists of Child Life specialists, practicum students, volunteers and interns. Students who are eligible are invited to apply for the 560 hours internship program or the 150 hour practicum program.
Volunteer With Child Life