Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialist Playing With Young Girl

Child Life Specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families cope with health care experiences. All child life specialists have completed clinical training, hold a minimum bachelor's or master's degree, and are certified through The Association of Child Life Professionals.

Child life specialists minimize stress and anxiety of hospitalization through:

Preparation & Procedural Support 

  • Enhance patients understanding of medical procedures by utilizing developmentally appropriate language and teaching aids to describe the typical sequence of events and sensory information
  • Support can be provided before, during and/or after medical procedures

Individualized Coping Plans

  • Collaborate with patients and families to customize plan to maximize coping during health care experiences
  • Identify alternative ways to promote pain management
  • Help patients develop ways to cope with fear, anxiety, separation and adjustment to the health care experience

Legacy Building

  • Bridge the gap between home and hospital by documenting developmental milestones, birthdays and holiday celebrations

Diagnosis Education

  • Use play, developmentally appropriate language and teaching aids to increase patients understanding of illness, injury or diagnosis

Pill Swallowing Education

  • Teach pill swallowing skills for patients over the age of 3 who are admitted to the hospital who require medication by mouth


Sibling Support

  • Educate and advocate for the needs of siblings or other children impacted by hospitalization
  • Use play and developmentally appropriate language to increase siblings’ understanding of illness, injury, diagnosis or change in medical status
  • Preparation for visits to the hospital while brother or sister is admitted
  • Individualized attention in the Sibling Clubhouse

Bereavement Support

  • Educate families regarding children’s understanding of death and dying
  • Help facilitate difficult conversations

Therapeutic Play (Individual & Group)

  • Self-expressive
  • Sensory
  • Medical play
  • Promoting typical growth and development, normalcy and socialization

Procedural Resources for Families

The following resources are available for download:

Patient and Family Resources for Surgery
Videos and Information about our Surgery Tours
Clinical Student Experiences
Learn About Practicum and Internship Opportunities for Students

Coverage Areas

  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
  • The Heart Center (Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit-CTICU)
  • Colorectal, Urology, and GI Intestinal Support Unit
  • Burn, Trauma, and Surgery Unit
  • Orthopedics, ENT, Plastic Surgery, and Special Pathogens Unit
  • Pulmonary, Complex Care, and Pulmonary Intensive Care Unit
  • General Peds and Adolescent Medicine Unit
  • Rehabilitation Unit
  • Neurology and Neurosurgery Unit (including Neurodiagnostics)
  • Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Rheumatology, and Genetics Unit
  • Hematology/Oncology Unit (including Bone Marrow Transplant Unit)
  • Infectious Disease Unit
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Cardiology Clinic
  • The Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction (CCPR)
  • Dialysis
  • Emergency Department
  • Hematology/Oncology Clinic
  • Hospice
  • Medical Specialties Clinics
  • Pulmonary Clinic
  • Procedure Center
  • Radiology
  • Sibling Clubhouse
  • Surgery Units and Surgery Tours

Meet our Child Life Specialists Leadership

  • Family and Volunteer Services Department Director: Donna Trentel
  • Child Life Manager: Karen McHugh-Fornadel
  • Child Life Clinical Leads: Ashley Curcio
  • Child Life Educator: Brittany Mikuluk

Quick Links