Who are Child Life Specialists?
Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) are professionals who are specially trained to help children and their families understand and manage the hospital experience. Child Life Specialists are skilled in providing developmental, educational, and therapeutic interventions for hospitalized children and their families. In keeping with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s Family Centered Care philosophy, Child Life Specialists support growth and development while recognizing family strengths and individuality, and respecting different methods of coping.
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.
How Can a Child Life Specialist Help Your Child and Family?
In collaboration with your family 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.
- Provide an environment that includes emotional support.
- Promote normal growth and development.
- Help with non-medical needs.
What Services Do Child Life Specialists Provide?
- Preparation for tests surgeries, and other medical procedures
- Support during medical procedures
- Therapeutic medical play using special dolls, stuffed animals and medical equipment
- Activities to continue normal growth and development of infants, children and adolescents in patient rooms and/or Activity Centers
- Sibling support
- Support for grief and bereavement issues
- Emergency room interventions
- Pre-admission Tours and information
- Outpatient consultation with families
- Specialized puppetry with Buddy, Rainbow's hospital mascot
What are the Additional Responsibilities of a Child Life Specialist?
- Collaboration with various pediatric therapies including the Creative Arts, which includes Music and Art Therapy; Pediatric Closed Circuit Television (PCCTV, Rainbow's own channel 6); and the Family Resource Center.
- Support for the Rainbow School Program, which is staffed by Cleveland Public Schools teachers who work with elementary through high-school-age children.
- Supervision and education of students in Child Life and other health-related fields.
- Orientation, training, and supervision of volunteers, including University Hospitals' pet therapy program, Pet Pals
- Coordination of special events, holiday celebrations, entertainment, and donations
- Education for the community on the needs of children in the hospital and their families
Where Do Child Life Specialists Work at Rainbow?
Child Life Specialists work with patients and families in many areas of the hospital such as the Emergency Department, patient rooms, surgical areas, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. In each of these areas, Child Life interventions focus on the individual needs of the patient and family.
What Families Have Said About Their Experiences With Our Child Life Specialists
“Our son was terrified when he had to get an IV. When the Child Life Specialist arrived, she prepared him and explained it to him on a level he could understand. She helped him learn some deep breathing and provided distractions. We are grateful.”
“The pre-hospital visit was invaluable in preparing our son for his surgery. We could not have done it without the Child Life Specialist.”
“Our daughter was admitted to the hospital on an emergency and we were devastated. The Child Life Specialist helped our younger children to understand what it meant to have the illness. The support and understanding that the Child Life Specialist showed our family helped us to cope and make it through this crisis.”
“Nurses gave me the information I needed to care for my baby and the Child Life Specialist gave me information on growth and development."
One 6-year-old patient said to Buddy, the hospital mascot at Rainbow, “I love you Buddy. You are my best friend.”
For Further Information
If your child is having surgery and will be staying overnight at Rainbow, you may contact a Child Life Specialist to arrange an individual preadmission tour. Or, if you would like information on a specific procedure for which your child is scheduled, you may contact a Child Life Specialist for a pre-procedural educational phone call.
Please call 216-844-5433 for further information.
If You Wish to Make a Donation
The Child Life Department eagerly accepts donations of new toys, games, and other items. For a complete list of items, please download our wish list. We also welcome financial contributions. For further information, please call 216-844-5433.
Due to infection control standards, we cannot accept donations of used stuffed animals or toys. We suggest you contact your local churches and day care centers to donate such items.