Child Life Services
Helping Children Cope with Hospitalization
At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center, child life specialists provide support to children and teens to help them prepare for their medical experience. Services include health education, therapeutic play, developmental activities and emotional support to minimize any psychological trauma, stress and anxiety associated with hospitalization. In turn, children and teens are better able to cope with and master their healthcare experience.
Our Primary Goals
An assessment of a child's developmental level, response to separation, coping style, temperament and available family support leads to therapeutic interventions that seek to achieve the following five primary goals:
- Minimize fear and stress experienced by children, teens and their families regarding their hospital experiences
- Support the patient's emotional, social and cognitive growth in the context of his or her family, culture and developmental stage
- Enhance the patient's understanding of medical procedures and diagnoses using age-appropriate techniques
- Support patients and families to continue everyday living experiences as much as possible
- Provide age-appropriate and safe play environments
Professional Standards of Practice
Child life specialists have earned a minimum of a bachelor's or master's degree, with an educational emphasis on human growth and development, education, psychology, or a related field of study.
They adhere to a code of ethics and standards established by the Child Life Council, and many have participated in the rigorous process for obtaining the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential, which is administered by CLC. All Certified Child Life Specialists must complete a supervised clinical internship, pass a national examination, and adhere to a minimum standard for continued professional development in order to maintain their certification.
Interventions are determined on an individual basis and may include a variety of services, such as:
- Providing educational and play activities that promote self-healing, self expression, understanding and mastery
- Preparing children and families for diagnostic and treatment procedures through developmentally appropriate methods
- Orienting children and families to their healthcare experiences and personnel through preparatory play and preadmission tours
- Utilizing therapeutic play techniques as an evaluation and treatment tool
- Assisting children and adolescents during identified stress points using stress-reduction, distraction, guided imagery and relaxation techniques
- Extending support to family members, including siblings, with respect to their particular stress and needs
- Offering parent education on child development and the impact of illness and hospitalization on children
- Encouraging family-centered care by giving parents opportunities to actively continue their parenting role
- Recognizing significant and familial experiences, such as holidays and birthdays
- Providing grief, loss and bereavement support
A Full Complement of Services
Certified child life specialists provide services primarily to children on the General Pediatric Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Outpatient Comprehensive Cancer Center. Services are also available throughout the Medical Center.
Children who have any of the following high-risk criteria on admission, or at any time during the hospital stay, should be referred to the child life specialist for further evaluation:
- Anticipated length of stay greater than three days
- Anticipated surgical/invasive procedure
- Exhibiting behavioral changes
- History of multiple hospitalizations
- Noted developmental delay or regression
- Patient or family experiencing grief or related issues
Child Life Services manages Cedars-Sinai's Pediatric Volunteer Program, including our POOCH Program (our dog volunteers). Specially trained volunteers provide play, recreational and supportive activities to children and families on patient care units. They serve at bedsides, in playrooms and in isolation rooms. Child Life Services also manages the activities of community groups that are involved in interacting with children, teens and their families.
Toy Donations for Hospitalized Children
Child Life Services is grateful to the many community members, service groups and businesses who generously donate supplies to our pediatric patients.Donations help to keep our activity rooms stocked and make holidays, birthdays and other special celebrations possible.Donated decorations add a cheerful touch to activity rooms and patient care areas. If you are interested in donating items, please view our recommended safety guidelines and wish list .
For More Information
For more information on Child Life Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, please contact:
|Child Life Services|
|Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center|
|Cedars-Sinai Medical Center|
|8700 Beverly Blvd., Room 4247 North Tower|
|Los Angeles, CA 90048|
|Phone: 1-800-CEDARS-1 (233-2771)|