The Child Life Program at the Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper University Hospital consists of a dedicated team of Child Life Specialists who understand that illness and hospitalization are stressful events in the lives of children and their families. Having a strong background in child development and family systems, Child Life Specialists use age-appropriate education, preparation, medical and therapeutic play, and supportive activities to promote effective coping and optimal development in children facing challenging healthcare experiences. The Child Life team strives to make the hospital experience a positive one by offering psychosocial and emotional support to children and families.

Services Provided by Certified Child Life Specialist 

  • Age-appropriate preparation for tests, procedures and surgery
  • Emotional support, pain management and coping strategies during medical procedures
  • Increased familiarity and understanding of the hospital environment through therapeutic and medical play
  • Assessments of a child’s behavior throughout the healthcare experience, based on developmental theory
  • Preparation for children visiting a critically ill family member

Additional Services Provided by  the Child Life Program

Child Life Assistants are also available to provide access to the playroom/activity room and developmentally appropriate toys, games and activities and to coordinate additional therapeutic services such as animal-assisted therapy, art therapy, music therapy and visits from Bumper T Caring Clowns.

Preparing for Your Child's Hospital Visit 

The hospital environment can be very stressful. Appropriately preparing children for the hospital experience will reduce much of their anxiety and help them cope.

  • For children 5 years and older, it is recommended to start talking about their upcoming hospitalization a few days to a week in advance. For children under 5 years, talk to them a day or two before admission to the hospital.
  •  Be honest. If you are not sure of an answer to a question, it is ok to say “I don’t know but I can try to find out.”
  • Use words your child will understand.
  • Encourage your child to discuss feelings and ask questions about the upcoming experience. Be careful not to force a discussion if your child does not seem ready.
  • Have your child bring a couple items that will offer comfort such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or photos of family, friends and pets.
  • Inquire about any pre-surgery tours or preparation programs that are offered.

During Your Child's Hospital Stay 

Children’s responses to the healthcare environment can differ depending on age, the reason for hospitalization, tests or procedures needed, past healthcare experiences and coping skills.

  • Tell the medical staff what has helped your child cope in the past.
  • Be positive, relaxed, and encouraging to your child. Children can sense when family members are anxious.
  • Praise your child for specific actions that are asked of him/her, such as holding still or taking deep breaths during a procedure.
  • Use a calm and quiet tone of voice when speaking.
  • Ask questions if you need clarification for yourself or your child.