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