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Child Life Services

Putting the needs of children first by focusing on psychosocial care and emotional well-being

Supporting Healing By Reducing Stress

A key part of our comprehensive and compassionate care is our Child Life program, designed to help children understand and cope with medical treatment. 

A child life specialist uses evidence-based techniques to make the hospital a kid-friendly place. But their scope goes much further: Their clinical and emotional expertise is an essential part of patient and family care, and they work to ensure a child's emotional and physical development in the face of illness. 

Child life specialists will be here for your child every step of the way by communicating through play, connecting on their level, and making them as comfortable as possible. 

Our Services

Our certified child life specialists work with children, families, medical staff, and the entire health care team to minimize the stress of a hospital experience through the following services:

  • Pre-admission and pre-surgical tours
  • Activities in the playroom, teen lounge, and bedside
  • Preparation for medical tests, procedures, and surgeries
  • Educational services, including homebound/hospital teaching and school re-entry program
  • Providing a sense of normalcy for children coping with serious health issues 
  • Reducing stress to help recovery and allow children to cope with their medical situation
  • Bereavement support with team members in the PICU and NICU
  • Special events such as pet therapy, clowns, as well as planning birthday and holiday celebrations

Encouraging Play, Keeping Kids Calm

Filled with colors, bright lights, mirrors, toys, and a rocking chair, the new sensory rooms are popping up on every floor of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “It’s not a typical patient room. We have our vibrating acoustic chair, which I think is probably one of my favorite features of the room because no kid is going to be afraid of a blue rocking chair. What this does is it rocks back and forth but you Bluetooth it to an iPad, phone or a CD player, and it will play the music and then vibrate to the beat of the music,” explained Kristen Brown, a child life specialist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The sensory room is designed to calm and distract children with special needs like autism, Down syndrome, sensory integration, even anxiety. “The goal is to have something that addresses each sensory modality. So we have our fiber optic lights that hang from the ceiling, so you hit different senses with that,” said Brown. In addition to keeping kids calm, the room is also set up to encourage play and cognitive development. “Kids can push either the buttons on the control to change the color so not only are they in control of something, but they can also pick their favorite colors. We also have the yellow squishy ball which activates the tube, turns it on and off. So not only are the playing they are learning cause and effect,” she said. From slide shows to voice-activated lights; each part of the room was created to keep kids at ease in the hospital. “We’re here for kids who need just that little bit of extra help,” Brown said. Turning what could be a scary experience into a moment of fun.

Elizabeth Webb, a certified Child Life specialist, has fun with one of our special patients.Elizabeth Webb, a certified Child Life specialist, has fun with one of our special patients. Child Life's Mission Statement: Certified child life specialists at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida are an integral part of the multidisciplinary team who promote positive coping through advocacy, developmentally appropriate play, procedural support and education. They are dedicated to meeting the individualized needs of our patients and families by empowering them to successfully navigate through their outpatient visit or inpatient stay.

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