All children, youth, and their families at Denver Health have a voice that is heard and respected regarding their health care.
To cultivate an environment where our pediatric patients discover, develop, and master positive coping skills.
To provide psychosocial support to pediatric patients and their families during stressful healthcare experiences.
What is a Child Life Specialist?
Child life specialists are trained professionals who help children and families adjust and cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury, disability, and hospitalization. Armed with an educational emphasis on human growth and development, these specialists provide psychosocial interventions, play opportunities and emotional support to assist children and their families during medical visits and procedures to help ease children’s fears and encourage mastery and understanding of challenging life experiences.
They adhere to a code of ethics and standards established by the Association for Child Life Professionals, a professional organization which also administers the rigorous process for obtaining the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential. All Certified Child Life Specialists have earned a bachelor and/or master’s degree and must complete a supervised clinical internship, pass an examination, and adhere to standards for continuing professional development in order to maintain their certification.
Child life specialists focus on the psychosocial and developmental needs of children, collaborating with families and other health care providers to:
- Prepare children for medical procedures or treatment using language that children understand
- Teach children, youth, and families about what to expect, what the medical team will ask of them and prepare them for a hospital stay to help ease fears about the hospital and the surgery routine
- Introduce coping strategies to help reduce anxiety and enhance cooperation with the health care team
- Provide support and distraction during medical procedures
- Assist parents in helping their child during medical procedures to make each procedure as positive as possible for patients and families
- Offer opportunities for play and expressive activities, to encourage normal development and a sense of FUN in spite of challenging circumstances
- Engage children in normative and therapeutic play activities that help meet their treatment goals and promote self-expression
- Promote family-centered care by providing information, advocacy and support
- Provide support to siblings and young family members of pediatric patients to promote participation in their sibling’s hospitalization
- Help parents and family members communicate with their child’s healthcare team to promote a family-centered experience
- Provide education and support to children and youth whose family members are in the adult ICU to teach them about the diagnosis and/or injury, help facilitate visits to the ICU and provide ongoing emotional support