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A visit to the hospital can be scary for both a child and their family. As certified child life specialists at the Providence Alaska Children's Hospital, we are here to support your family. Our training and knowledge of child development, coping, and medical preparation make us experts in techniques to help minimize your child’s anxieties and fears about their care. We use play as a primary tool along with many therapeutic activities and developmentally appropriate interventions.

Our team focuses on the psychosocial needs of patients and families to:

  • Reduce stress and trauma of the medical environment
  • Build coping skills to manage stressful hospital environments
  • Prepare for various medical procedures
  • Build therapeutic relationships
  • Support siblings needs when affected by trauma and illness
  • Facilitate navigating grief and bereavement in the hospital

Your family is welcome to ask for our services, which are free of charge, at any time during your hospital visit or stay. To reach us, please call the child life services department, 907-212-8222, or ask any care team member.

Our services are useful for reducing fears, anxiety, and stress for pediatric patients in the medical environment. We advocate for the Comfort Promise, which is a hospital commitment to do everything we can to limit painful experiences. The Comfort Promise Initiative uses comfort positioning, topical numbing, sucrose/breastfeeding, and distraction to minimize unnecessary pain for our patients. Not all pain can be avoided, but we can help your child with pain with non-pharmacological techniques and creating coping plans that are individualized to your child and family.

As child life specialists, we provide a safe environment for your child to ask questions, manage their emotions, and master what is happening to them. To do this, we use the following tools and techniques:

We have play areas and toys so your child can have fun and feel more comfortable while in the hospital. Play is an important tool in your child’s healing journey. It can help your child feel more in control and make the situation less scary. Play is how children normalize and make sense of their world. 

Therapeutic art and medical play

We offer arts-and-crafts in our activity room as well as bedside art activities. Besides being fun, these therapeutic activities can help your child express their feelings and give them tools to manage their anxiety and emotions. We also offer “medical play,” which gives your child the opportunity to play with common medical tools. Using a medical play kit with a skilled child life specialist can help children and the adults who love them discover any misconceptions about their diagnosis or the care they are receiving as well as offer opportunities for processing. 

We can provide age-appropriate explanations and information to make the hospital a more friendly place. From what something looks like, sounds, or feels to understanding a diagnosis, we can talk with you and your child about what is happening in a less scary way. This often includes helping siblings prepare for hospital visits. 

If you see bubbles floating out of a room, that’s us! This is just one type of distraction we use to reduce anxiety during medical procedures. Distraction is one of many coping tools that child life specialists use to help children of all ages cope through procedures. We help your child choose a distraction method based on their age, understanding, and previous experiences. 

If your child is scheduled for surgery, we can help your family learn more about the process. Learn more about how to talk to your child about surgery in advance by calling the Child Life Program at 907-212-2817.

Hospital volunteers play an important role in reducing the anxieties and fears of patients and their siblings. They can visit your child’s room to play, read or take a walk. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Volunteer Services at 907-212-3100 or visit our webpage to learn more.

Please email the Child Life department for questions and inquiries about child life student opportunities.

The Child Life Program and Providence Alaska Children's Hospital always welcome donations of new items. View the latest wish list items for kids at The Children's Hospital at Providence or contact the Providence Foundation to learn more.

Volunteer visits

Hospital volunteers play an important role in reducing the anxieties and fears of patients and their siblings. They can visit your child’s room to play, read or take a walk. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Volunteer Services at 907-212-3100 or visit our webpage to learn more.

Special visitors

The Child Life Program provides opportunities for special events and pre-screened visitors to the pediatric floor. Visitors can help normalize the hospital experience and bring some fun to our pediatric patients during their stays. To request visiting, please call 907-212-8222.

Providence Alaska Foundation

Providence Alaska Foundation strives to promote a healthy community by raising funds for programs, projects, initiatives and issues that address the health needs of Alaskans.

Join us in the work of finding amazing ways to touch lives. Your efforts are strengthened in partnership with Providence to maximize your reach and impact.

For more information about the field of child life, please visit the Association of Child Life Professionals’ website at www.ChildLife.org.