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Child Life Services

Hospitalization can be an overwhelming time for children and adolescents, and child life is an integral part of a patient’s stay. The certified child life specialists at UI Health work with children and their families to help reduce the stressors of hospitalization through play, preparation, and therapeutic interventions. Child life services are available in our pediatric and pediatric intensive care units, and other areas upon referral.

How Do Child Life Specialists Help?

  • Provide age-appropriate play opportunities to help normalize the hospital environment
  • Facilitate special events and group activities in our newly renovated playroom and teen room
  • Provide preparation for medical experiences to alleviate fears and clear up misconceptions
  • Work alongside the multidisciplinary team in procedures to offer distractions, developmentally appropriate explanations, and coping exercises to keep children calm
  • Provide guidance and resources to siblings and parents affected by a child’s illness

Tips for a Successful Hospital Experience

  • We encourage parents to stay bedside with their child, if possible.
  • Provide your child with honest, simple explanations of why they are visiting hospital.
  • Bring a favorite comfort item from home, such as a toy, blanket, or stuffed animal.
  • Bring your own clothes and personal toiletries.

Inpatient Special Events

Our staff is committed to ensuring your child has the most positive experience possible while staying with us. Some of our regular special programs to help your child stay busy include:

  • Pet therapy: Trained and certified pet therapy dogs visit our unit weekly.
  • Snow City Arts: We are lucky to have three teaching artists to offer bedside and group workshops in media arts, creative writing, and music .
  • Child life volunteers: We have volunteers available daily to offer play activities in the playroom and at bedside.
  • Movie Nights: Families are invited to participate in movie nights, including snacks and a movie on the big projector in the playroom.
  • “Simply From The Heart” bedside pampering: A glam squad of beauticians visits our unit to offer bedside pampering to help our kids engage in self-care.
  • Holiday parties: The Child Life team plans parties for all major holidays, often with the help of outside organizations.
  • Donations: The Child Life team helps facilitate, organize, and distribute donations to children who are experiencing medical challenges. If you are interested in donating, see the Child Life Wish List for details.

Child Life Practicum

In addition to child life volunteer opportunities, UI Health also offers a child life practicum. The Child Life team at UI Health is committed to helping young professionals advance their experiences on the path to become a child life specialist. The child life practicum is part-time and has a minimum requirement of 100 hours. We offer child life practicums each fall and winter, and practicums include opportunities for observation, play, and engagement. If you are interested in a child life practicum, please contact the UI Health Child Life team life to request the application materials.

Contact Us

For any inquiries about child life, donations, or student opportunities, please contact:

Dana Thornquist, CCLS — Child Life Specialist
danatho@uic.edu
312.413.0662