Providence Health & Services
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Child Life Program
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Special Needs Clinic
Child Life Program
Reducing the trauma and stress for children and families interfacing with the hospital is the primary goal and mission of
About Child Life
A Child Life specialist is specially trained to work in a health care setting, focusing on the developmental needs of children and their families. Child Life specialists work to provide a safe environment for children to ask questions and express their emotions. The services are designed to help children and their families become familiar with the hospital environment and reduce fears associated with a hospital stay or visit. Child Life uses play as a primary tool to reduce anxiety, teach, and assist with development.
The following are special services offered by Child Life staff:
PAMC Pet Assisted Wellness Services (PAWS)
If you are in The Children’s Hospital you may hear delighted giggles and gentle laughter coming from the rooms and hallways. Specially trained PAWS therapy dog teams volunteer their time to visit with patients, visitors and staff. Animal-assisted interactions have been proven to reduce patient anxiety and help ease the transition from home to hospital. Many patients welcome the opportunity for a friendly, furry distraction from waiting or anticipated medical procedures.
PAWS teams also participate in goal-directed therapy sessions supervised by expert clinicians. Your medical team can request therapy dog visits through the PAWS coordinator. If you are interested in learning more about scheduling a PAWS team, or training to volunteer with your own dog, please contact PAWS Coordinator
If you see bubbles floating out of a patient room don’t be alarmed. Child Life may be using distraction as a way to reduce the anxiety involved with an IV start or other medical procedure. Children of all ages often experience anxiety when faced with a medical procedure. Distraction and relaxation interventions help children cope with their experience. Child Life staff meet the child and the family and help figure out a plan to help reduce that anxiety either through distracting activities or relaxation methods.
Arriving at the hospital can be a scary experience for children. Seeing a play area or having a favorite toy brought into the room is a great way to reduce anxiety and increase comfort for a child. Child Life provides developmentally appropriate toys to children and their families. They also provide medically oriented play to help desensitize children to the normal tools used in a hospital. Child Life uses play therapy as a way to help children work out their emotions around being in the hospital. Lastly, Child Life provides play opportunities in the art room as a way to stimulate normal development and plain old fun!
Many families and children are curious about the surgery process. If your child is scheduled for surgery you can call the Child Life Department to learn more about the surgery process. The Child Life specialist will show you around the surgery areas and explain expectations for the day of surgery from a child’s perspective. Children are given the opportunity to ask questions and explore materials/supplies that will be part of their surgery experience. This “show and tell” often reduces the anxiety around what will happen at the hospital. Please call (907) 212-3014 to speak with one of our staff. Tours are currently offered by appointment only. Other family members are welcome, but please do not bring food and drinks on the tour.
Building friendship bracelets with beads, creating picture frames, experimenting with blow pens, and coloring are just a few of the ways Child Life provides therapeutic art activities for children and families. Medical equipment is also used for art to help desensitize children to the things that are used on them. The Child Life staff stock and maintain an arts and crafts room for patients and families to utilize during their stay at The Children’s Hospital. Child Life provide bedside art activities for children who aren’t quite so mobile. Art and craft activities are provided as a therapeutic tool for dealing with anxiety, emotional expression, and fun.
Children’s Hospital volunteers are an integral part of Child Life service delivery. Our volunteers visit from room to room providing a playmate for a child or sibling. You may find our volunteers reading stories, taking a walk with a patient, rocking a baby, cleaning toys and play areas, and helping out with special events. Child Life is happy to help families connect with a volunteer to help make their hospital stay smoother. To volunteer on pediatrics you must be 18 years of age and be able to commit to 4 hours per week for one year. If you are interested in volunteering on the Pediatrics or Sub-Specialty units, please contact Volunteer Services at 907-212-3100.
Children’s Hospital welcomes donations of new items. Due to HIPAA regulations and for the safety of our patients and visitors our hospital does not allow donators to visit with patients or families. Please call (907) 212-3014 to set up a time for a drop off with one of our staff or you may drop them off at the welcome desk anytime.
View the latest wish list for kids at The Children's Hospital at Providence.
Students are welcome at Providence. The Child Life department is currently offering a fall internship. Please e-mail Bonnie Hiers at
for an application or
download an informational flier
for more information regarding a child life internship.
NICU Sibling Screenings
Please contact child life at (907) 212-3014 to arrange a time so your new baby’s siblings (ages 2-8) can visit the NICU. Please leave a message with your baby’s last name and a number to reach you if we do not answer and we will return your call.
School at the Hospital
Children’s Hospital has it's own teacher! Child Life works closely with our hospital based school teachers. School is so important to maintaining normalcy while in the hospital and as children go back home. To contact them regarding school concerns, developmental referrals or if your child is going to be in the hospital more than 5 days, please contact them directly at (907) 212-2503.
Glossary of Terms
Child Life Application
About the Staff
Childbirth & Parenting
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