Why Is Child Life Important?

Coping with illness, injury, and medical treatment is often challenging and stressful for children, adolescents, and their families. For pediatric patients of all ages, hospitalization and outpatient treatment can lead to feelings of fear, confusion, and vulnerability. In addition, the isolation associated with hospitalization and certain medical conditions and treatments can inhibit children's natural development and negatively affect their physical and emotional health.


Child Life During the Holidays

The holidays are a particularly difficult time for children to be in the hospital. The Beaumont Children's Pediatric Family Advisory Council at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI, created a special program to bring holiday light and cheer to the hospital's pediatric patients. The program is called Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams, and at 8 p.m. on every evening in December, community members shine flashlights up toward the hospital's windows, where children are waiting to flash them back. "Many children are unable to leave their rooms and can feel isolated in the hospital as the rest of the world continues without them," Beaumont Children's Child Life Supervisor Kathleen Grobbel said. "With the help of the community, we can make sure they go to bed with smiles on their faces."

How Do Certified Child Life Specialists Help?

Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) work with your child's healthcare team to reduce the distress associated with treatment and to create a more positive experience for your child and family.

Certified Child Life Specialists are educated in the psychosocial care of children and the developmental impact of illness, injury, and hospitalization. As integral members of multidisciplinary healthcare teams, child life professionals support pediatric patients and their families by working to reduce the fear, anxiety, pain, and suffering associated with illness, injury, and medical treatment. They use therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to make potentially traumatic experiences less stressful. As a result, Certified Child Life Specialists increase patient satisfaction and contribute to improved healthcare experiences for the entire family. 


Praise for Child Life

From Patients and Families

"It was the child life specialist that helped me forget why I was there and what I was doing. It made me so happy, and I felt like a kid that had just met a nice lady with a nice dog. I didn't feel like a kid battling cancer."

- Luke, pediatric patient

"I want you to know how thankful I am for everything you did for my family and me. I hope you know that even though William was too sick for the doctors to save, you saved my family."

- Elizabeth's words to Emily, a Certified Child Life Specialist

From the American Academy of Pediatrics

  • "Child Life services improve quality and outcomes in pediatric care as well as the patient and family experience."
  • "Child life services should be delivered as part of an integrated patient- and family-centered model of care and included as a quality indicator in the delivery of services for children and families in health care settings."
  • "Play is an essential component of a child life program and of the child life professional's role."

Source: Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (May, 2014) 

About Child Life

Child Life News

Child Life in Action

  • Royal Oak community lights the nights and hearts of sick children at Beaumont

    Dec 21, 2017
  • Hong Kong specialists form bridge between doctors and young cancer patients

    Nov 28, 2017
  • Child life helps a family bond while separated for months

    Nov 27, 2017
  • Why more parents are being allowed in emergency rooms while their child is treated

    Nov 16, 2017
  • The power of play in children's health

    Nov 09, 2017
  • Celebrating 125 Years of Norton Children's Hospital

    Nov 07, 2017

Resources for Parents

When to Ask for Child Life Services

Your child's emotional well-being is important. Ask for a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) anytime your child requires medical attention:

  • an emergency room visit
  • a referral to a hospital (pediatric inpatient unit)
  • a referral to a pediatric specialty unit (surgical, outpatient, etc.)
  • an appointment at a private medical or dental practice (if your child expresses fear)