Child Life in Action

at a Non-Profit Foundation responding to COVID-19 with founder Andrea 'Andy' Mangione Standish, CCLS

by Yvonne Kassimatis | Oct. 20, 2020 

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Andrea 'Andy' Mangione Standish, CCLS, is the president of the Standish Foundation for Children, which she founded in 2010. Much like the day-to-day goals of many child life specialists, the Standish Foundation works to “transform healthcare experiences for patients and providers” through education, advocacy, service and financial support.   

Andy has worked with children and families dealing with acute and chronic conditions in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Global experiences early in her career changed the trajectory of her work. Those experiences, along with an introduction to a group of global activists who created standards for pediatric healthcare in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), sparked a passion to support the rights and needs of ill children and their families overseas.

Andy helps promote sustainable child and family friendly healthcare practices globally by sharing her expertise with fellow child life specialists, doctors, nurses, residents, psychologists, hospital play specialists, and allied health professionals in the United States as well as in Italy, Brazil, Japan, Jordan, Nicaragua, Taiwan, Israel, Georgia, New Zealand, Egypt, and the Philippines. She has volunteered on medical missions in Brazil, Cambodia, China, Jordan, Nicaragua, Egypt, Vietnam, Honduras, Ethiopia, Laos, and the Philippines.

From Doha, Qatar, and Tbilisi, Georgia, as well as at home in Austin, Texas, Andy enjoys collaborating with CCLSs around town and around the world. Andy works with CCLSs in Austin, Texas, to plan networking events for the Hill Country Child Life Network. Fellow CCLSs and Austinites Jennifer Garrison and Cindy Fitchpatrick have also supported Andy’s fundraising efforts. Shani Thorton, MS, CCLS, is the Digital and Social Media Manager and Board Director for Standish Foundation. Kasey Reinhardt, CCLS, and BobbiJo Pansier, CCLS, manage Global Fellowships.

Andy utilized the depth and breadth of her experience to orchestrate responses in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was important to Andy to make sure that CCLSs on the frontline were not forgotten.

Realizing the impact that COVID-19 was having on child life students, with hospitals suspending volunteer opportunities, practicums and internships, Andy reached out to students that were still eager to support pediatric patients and healthcare providers. Four child life students, Carly Gibbs, Christina Skeens, Sydney Grant, and Sam Leahon volunteered their time to make a positive impact with the Standish Foundation. This created an opportunity for students to gain real-world experience working with a CCLS-led non-profit organization. 

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Volunteer-made masks
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Volunteer-made self-care packages
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"Child Life Happy Hour of Healing"

The students identified the need for PPE and lifting the low morale of medical providers as two priorities. They raised $1000 for PPE, helped recruit and coordinate volunteer mask makers, communicated with child life departments, and helped manage the shipment of care packages with baked goods and 2,500 PPE including masks, shields, and ear savers. The foundation also hosted numerous “Child Life Happy Hour of Healing” events on social media. 

Sam Leahon said, “The response from our donors and supporters was uplifting, and it was with their help that we were able to provide comfort and protection to so many frontline healthcare providers and families in response to COVID-19.” Another child life student and volunteer, Sydney Grant said, “Working with the Standish Foundation has been such a great experience. I have learned so much about the child life community." By mobilizing child life student volunteers, PPE and care packages were sent to 100 hospitals in 29 states. 

"The response from our donors and supporters was uplifting, and it was with their help that we were able to provide comfort and protection to so many frontline healthcare providers and families in response to COVID-19."
- Sam Leahon, child life student, volunteer 

Standish Foundation-Khatuna Dolidze, CCLS, PhD-furloughed team

As part of their international response to the global pandemic, the foundation provided a grant for furloughed psychologists in Tbilisi, Georgia. Long-time foundation partner, Khatuna Dolidze, CCLS, PhD, had her entire team of psychologists furloughed in Tbilisi, Georgia. As a low resource country, the healthcare system was already strained. The Standish Foundation for Children provided a grant to supplement the salary for 12 child psychologists. While furloughed, they worked on translating the foundation’s “Tame the Pain” training modules.

Within a two-month period, Andy M. Standish, CCLS, pivoted the support provided by her foundation to provide more than 2500 PPE and 50 self-care packages for healthcare providers in 100 hospitals in 29 states and financially supported 12 psychologists' salaries. That's child life in action!

See more Child Life in Action.


Child Life Profession