Diane Dingley began her almost 40 year career as a child life specialist at Children’s Minnesota shortly after completing Wheelock College’s first graduate program in Early Childhood Education/Child Life. She has been at the forefront of developing patient and family-centered policies and practices at Children’s. Diane pioneered child life services in hematology/oncology, neonatal care and high-risk pregnancy, cardiology, radiology, and children of adult patients. She embraces a strengths-based approach, and promotes play as fundamental to healing and coping. Working collaboratively with the neonatal developmental care committee, she established Wee Read, an evidence-based reading program designed to promote neonatal infant brain development and infant-parent bonding, and she uses bibliotherapy routinely in her clinical practice. Her partnership with music therapists has expanded music listening and music therapy services in the NICU and throughout the hospital. Diane holds the unique needs of siblings in high regard, providing direct interventions and facilitating SibShops and diagnosis-specific sibling support programs. She has been a champion of bereavement support as a founding and current member of the Bereavement Services Program, developing and facilitating end of life care, grief groups, memorial services, and, long before they were common, a weekend camp for children and teens.
Diane has authored countless articles, patient-family education materials, and training materials for medical and ancillary staff, as well as a chapter on school re-entry for an American Cancer Society pediatric cancer textbook for nurses. Along with a 39 year history of supervising and mentoring students, her coordination of the Child Life internship program led to ACLP accreditation in 2017. She partnered with a local community college in designing their child life assistant program and field experience at Children’s MN.
Diane has contributed to the growth of our profession from its early stages in the Association for the Care of Children’s Health by contributing to the Values statement at the CLC’s Mission, Vision and Values conference, presenting at multiple CLC/ACLP conferences, reviewing abstracts, and actively engaging in the internship coordinator’s forum. She is known for modeling and teaching best practices to new and seasoned child life professionals and as a tireless advocate for exceptional psychosocial care.