Child Life Department

Child Life Specialists Educate and Support Children and Families in the Hospital Experience

The certified child life specialists at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center are trained to help children and their families understand and manage the hospital experience. Our team provides developmental, educational and therapeutic interventions for hospitalized children and their families, supporting growth and development while recognizing family strengths and respecting different methods of coping.

Child life specialists work with patients and families primarily in the emergency department, outpatient surgery area and adult units with patients who have young children. In each of these areas, child life interventions focus on the individual needs of the patient and family.

Child life specialists have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, with an educational background that includes human growth and development, education, psychology and counseling. In addition, child life specialists are affiliated with the Child Life Council (CLC), an independent national organization that sets standards to ensure that children receive high quality health care.

The Role of a Child Life Specialist

In collaboration with families and other health care providers, the role of the child life specialist is to:

  • Increase the understanding of hospital experiences
  • Recognize and support strengths within your family and advocate for family-centered care
  • Support the patient’s emotional, social, and cognitive growth in context of his/her family cultures and developmental stages
  • Work to minimize fears and stress experienced by children, adolescents, and families regarding healthcare experiences and develop or build coping skills
  • Collaborate with members of the healthcare interdisciplinary team
  • Teach children about a new diagnosis affecting themselves or a parent or caregiver

The Child Life Department uses a family-centered approach to provide a variety of services, some of which include:

  • Preparing and supporting children undergoing tests, surgeries and other medical procedures
  • Facilitating medical play using special dolls, stuffed animals and medical equipment in individual settings
  • Providing education and resources for parents and members of the interdisciplinary team
  • Easing a child’s fear and anxiety with therapeutic and recreational activities while promoting normal growth and development of infants, children and adolescents in patient rooms
  • Considering the needs of siblings or other children who may also be affected by children’s illness or trauma
  • Supporting families confronting grief and bereavement issues
  • Providing distraction and support during Emergency room procedures and interventions

Additional responsibilities of child life specialists at UH Ahuja Medical Center include:

  • Orientation, training and supervision of volunteers
  • Coordination of special events, holiday celebrations and donations
  • Education for the community on the needs of children in the hospital and their families

For Further Information

If your child is having surgery, or if you would like information on a specific procedure for which your child is scheduled, you may contact a UH Ahuja Medical Center child life specialist for a pre-procedural educational phone call.

Please call 216-593-1508 for further information.

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