Family Support Services

Child Life Specialists as Crayons

The Family Support Services department is here to ease the way for patients and families at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. Our department includes: Child Life Specialists, Arts in Healing Coordinator, Music Therapist, Art Therapist, Family Resource Coordinator, Safe Kids/Car Sear Technician, and Activities Assistant. We work with patients, families, and community members to create a positive healing environment. A more detailed description of our services can be found below.

Child Life Specialists 

Child Life Specialists are pediatric health care professionals who work with children and families in hospitals to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability. They provide children and families with age-appropriate preparation for medical procedures, pain management, coping strategies, play, and self-expression activities.  

Child Life Specialist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital can be found in the following areas: 

  • Pediatric Emergency Department
  • Pediatric Surgery Center
  • Pediatric ICU
  • Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Specialty unit
  • General pediatric unit
  • Pediatric and Neonatal supportive care team
  • Pediatric Oncology/Hematology
  • By referral: Neonatal ICU, Sacred Heart adult units, St Luke’s Rehabilitation Center and Fresenius Kidney Center  

New experiences in a medical setting can be scary for children and caregivers alike, let alone during potentially painful or traumatic procedures. Child Life Specialists aim to reduce the trauma experience by providing developmentally appropriate preparation and education prior to procedures, as well as support and alternative focus during the procedure itself. We work with the multidisciplinary care team to advocate for family-centered care and our hospital Comfort Promise.

Play is a key part of a child’s life. Play is a tool that allows children to communicate, express themselves, escape, and have fun. Play can be used to normalize the hospital environment and encourage mastery. As Child Life Specialist we use play to teach children about their time at the hospital, this is called medical play. We also have playrooms on inpatient units, mobile play carts, and teen lounges. Allowing children to access play encourages healing, coping, development, and socialization.

Illness, treatment and hospitalization are stressful for the child who is sick or injured, as well as parents and siblings. Child Life Specialists provide support for the emotions each family member may feel during a hospital stay.

Siblings experience their own range of emotions whether they are present at the hospital or at home. In instances where a child is nearing death, Child Life Specialists work with siblings to help them understand and assist the family in creating memory items if the family wishes.

Child life staff are also available to support children who have a parent or grandparent who is critically ill in the adult areas of Sacred Heart Medical Center and provide guidance to the adults who care for them.

Visiting us for an upcoming surgery or procedure? Check out our Pediatric Surgery Center Videos.

  • Avrie's Surgery Experience
    Having surgery can be frightening for anyone, but it's especially scary for kids who don't always understand what's going on, or what the grown-ups are saying. We're here to help!
  • Health Matters: Meet a Child Life Specialist
    Spending time in a hospital can be a scary even for an adult. At Sacred Heart Children's Hospital a staff of Child Life Specialists work to help young patients and families cope with the stress of their stay.