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Child Life Specialists

Child Life specialist with patient

Children and teens of all ages can feel stressed or worried while visiting the hospital or clinic. The unfamiliar environment, loss of control, fear of pain and lack of routine are among the most common anxieties young patients feel during a health care encounter. Our Child Life specialists help patients and family members express and work through their concerns, as well as help make their stay at the medical center feel more normal.

"One of the things that always made our hospital stays better was the ability to go down to the play room that is available on every floor. However, for one specific stay, we had to be in isolation because of infection risks. Since we were unable to go to the play room, our Child Life specialist brought the play room to us. My daughter's room was filled with the toys and games that she loved. It made her stay so much easier. Feel free to ask any child life specialist about toys, baby swings or exersaucers, playmats, music and crafts or anything you think could make your child's hospital stay better."

- Parent at Cook Children's Medical Center

When visiting Cook Children's, you can expect a Child Life specialist to offer assistance with coping, developmentally appropriate explanations of diagnoses and treatments, emotional support and opportunities for distraction and play. Child life specialists work with the medical team to ensure each child's needs are addressed in the most nurturing atmosphere possible.

The Child Life department at Cook Children's includes not only Child Life specialists, but also activity coordinators that help facilitate meaningful play opportunities for patients and siblings visiting the hospital.

Child Life specialists are educated in child and human development; they have at least a bachelor's degree, and in many cases, a master's. They complete a semester of practicum, a 480-hour highly selective clinical internship, and must demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge to pass a certification exam. Once certified, they're required to maintain certification by participating in professional development and continuing education. The knowledge gained on the way to becoming a certified Child Life specialist is used to build therapeutic relationships that help patients and their families balance daily life and the health care experience.

Access services and meet our team

Are you a child life student or interested in learning more about how to become a Certified Child Life Specialist? Please visit the student opportunities page for more information about our programs for child life students.