Child Life Program

Child Life Program Child Zone

Play and family are important parts of a child's life. When a child, teen, or adult becomes ill or injured, these normal activities and relationships are disrupted, often resulting in increased fear and stress.

Children and teens benefit from preparation and developmentally appropriate support to increase positive coping skills. Our Child Life staff provides many opportunities to engage hospitalized children and teens in normal day-to-day activities, support their development, and enhance their ability to cope with the hospital experience. In addition, our Child Life staff are available for children and teens when their caregiver is hospitalized and they need help understanding what is going on medically and wanting to visit.


Who Are We?

At Denver Health the Child Life program is comprised of professionals who are committed to the practice of family-centered care by promoting play, education, developmental and psychosocial support. We are an integral part of the health care team that specializes in your child’s emotional well-being, minimizing stress, and maximizing coping for children and their families throughout their hospital experience.

Each specialist is equipped with a strong background in child & adolescent development, these specialists use to play and other educational techniques to assist children and their families during medical visits and procedures by helping ease children’s fear and encouraging cooperation and coping.

All of our certified child life specialists have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in one or more of the following areas: child life, child and adolescent development, psychology, human growth, and development, or special education. They are required to have completed an internship supervised by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and become certified through the Association of Child Life Professionals. Each child life specialist is required to keep their certification through continuing education. To ensure and maintain their knowledge is current and up to date practices in their day to day practice.

Child Life Zone Denver Health Playground                Child Life Playground Denver Health


What do We do?

The Child Life department provides individualized care to support children, teens, and their families during hospitalization and medical procedures at Denver Health.

  • We promote positive coping and self-expression related to healthcare experiences for patients and their siblings through play.
  • We reduce fear, stress, anxiety, and pain by providing opportunities for children and teens to become familiar with the healthcare environment and by promoting family-centered care.
  • We develop supportive relationships with patients and family members through the use of play and a sense of community.
  • We provide developmentally appropriate education about medical procedures, diagnoses, and healthcare experiences.
  • We bridge the gap between home and hospital by providing familiar activities.
  • We work closely with families and healthcare teams to minimize the stress of a hospital visit and to achieve healthcare goals.

Male patient at the Child Life Zone                                    female patient at the Child Life Zone

Preparing Children and Teens for Medical Procedures

Surgery, blood draws, and broken bones, are a few procedures the Child Life team teaches kids about what to expect, how the body works, and decrease the fear and anxiety that come with each procedure.

In collaboration with providing age-appropriate education for children and teens, during medical procedures they provide distraction and relaxation techniques. Additionally, they assist caregivers in helping their loved ones during medical procedures. Their goal is to make each procedure as positive as possible for patients and families.

Therapeutic & Medical Play

Playing helps children cope with and adjust to their hospital experience by providing them with a safe and developmentally appropriate way to express themselves, meet their treatment goals, decrease pain, and help them feel like themselves.

Our Child Life team uses medical play to help teach children about procedures, diagnosis, and so much more. This gives the children and teens a hands-on learning experience so they can express their feelings or concerns.

Sibling & Family Support

Siblings: A trip to the hospital can be difficult for the child and also affect siblings. They need to understand what is happening and need to work through their feelings. Our child life specialists are here to help children understand the situation and provide age-appropriate support.

Family: Medical treatments and hospital visits affect the entire family. Families benefit from emotional support during their child’s hospital stay. Child life specialists help caregivers communicate with their child’s healthcare team to promote a family-centered experience.

Children and Teens of Adult Patients

Child life specialists provide education and support to children and teens whose family members are in the adult intensive care units. They teach them about the diagnosis and/or injury, help facilitate visits to the adult intensive care units and provide ongoing emotional support.

Educational and Volunteer Experiences 


We are proud to train the future child life specialist through our Child Life Practicum.


This is a rewarding way to help children while also showing your support and appreciation of Denver Health. Volunteers make a tremendous impact on the lives of our patients and their families. Become a Volunteer!