Children's Hospital Colorado

Child Life Program

A woman with long brown hair and wearing blue scrubs watches as a boy in a white shirt attaches a tube to a baby doll.

The Child Life Program at Children's Hospital Colorado is staffed by more than 40 specialists who help patients and families adjust and cope with the hospital or clinic setting, illness or injury and the treatments involved. Specialists have training in ways to use play, recreation and educational techniques to assist children and families. Child Life services are available to patients at Children's Hospital Colorado at no extra charge.

As trained professionals, each specialist has a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the areas of child life, human development & family studies, child and adolescent development or special education. Specialists are required to maintain professional certification by the Child Life Council.

Services Provided

Support During Procedures
Specialists at Children's Hospital Colorado can help children and adolescents reduce pain and anxiety during medical procedures. This is done by using techniques such as alternative focuses and relaxation exercises. Specialists can also assist parents in helping their child during medical procedures.

Medical Preparation and Pre-Surgery Teaching
When a child or adolescent is scheduled for a medical test/procedure or for surgery, a specialist can help teach and prepare them. By giving just the right amount of information, based on the child’s age and situation, a child’s fears of their upcoming experience can be lessened. These services can also help parents become more familiar with hospital procedures and information.

Therapeutic Play Activities
Specialists are able to provide therapeutic play activities to help decrease pain, meet treatment goals, learn new skills and shorten recovery time. Therapeutic play activities can occur while at your child’s bedside or in an activity room.

Support for Brothers and Sisters
Brothers and sisters are affected by illness and injury too. They may need help understanding what is happening and how to work through their feelings and concerns about their sibling. Specialists are available to help brothers and sisters by giving support and answering their questions.

Parent Education and Support
Specialists are available to give emotional support and information to parents as it relates to helping their child or adolescent cope with what is going on. Understanding how children at different developmental levels may see their experiences can be helpful for choosing how a parent can best support their child.

Medical Play
This hands-on play experience uses real or pretend medical equipment and supplies to help children become familiar and more comfortable in the hospital. This opportunity allows children to express their feelings and fears about their health-care experience and become more calm and confident.

Celebrating child life specialists