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Child Life

Child Life

For a kid, coming to the hospital can be very scary. There are new people, new machines and many new sounds. But at Dayton Children's we work hard to make sure everything is "just right for kids." This means we have people working around the clock to ensure your child not only feels safe at the hospital, but that they can focus on their most important job... being a kid!

Our child life specialists focus on the emotional support and developmental needs of Dayton Children's patients and families. As part of a patient's healthcare team, child life specialists help a patient cope with illness, injury, treatment and procedures. The child life staff uses play, preparation, education and self-expression activities to help children understand why they are receiving medical care.

Learn more about:

Services We Offer

How can child life benefit my child?

  • Preparation: Child life can prepare patients for upcoming treatments and procedures through calming and educational activities.
  • Coping and Support: Child life can accompany a patient to testing, procedures and treatments in order to offer support, distractions and pain management.
  • Play activities: The child life department provides toys, play activities and crafts to continue normal growth and development.

Other services we offer:

  • Three West activity center (Monday-Friday, 10:30 activity time)
  • "Paw Prints" pet therapy program
  • "Clown Crew" clown visits
  • Art Cart
  • Special events, visitors and entertainment
  • Laptops for patient use

Special Visitors

Child life collaborates with community groups or individuals who are interested in bringing smiles to our patients faces. These visitors positively impact patients by engaging them in activities or donating needed items from our wish list. For more information call the child life department at 937- 641-3303

Special events or group visits should be scheduled two weeks to one month in advance. Dates and times are limited and fill up fast.

Please keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Preferred group size is five people or less
  • All participants must be age 15+
  • Groups must be accompanied by a child life specialist or hospital volunteer
  • No food, candy or latex balloons
  • All photos require parent consent
  • Allow 60 to 90 minutes for your group visit
  • Our patients range in age from newborn to 21 years of age

Child Life Donations

Child life only accepts donations of new toys and new stuffed animals. All items should be in their original packaging and stuffed animals should have their original tags. Please do not wrap gifts. Gift bags, tissue and wrapping paper can be donated.
Child life also accepts monetary donations to support the Child Life Fund, providing toys, books and games for all areas of the hospital. The fund also supports the purchase of craft supplies, birthday gifts and holiday activities.

Child Life Clinical Experiences 

Please note that we will not be offering a child life practicum during summer of 2017.

Dayton Children’s is pleased to offer  a child life practicum for college students pursuing the child life profession. This practicum is a 100- hour observational experience that is designed for students who have or are currently obtaining a degree in child life or any other major that is approved by the Child Life Council  . Please refer to our practicum guidelines for more information.  If you have questions regarding student opportunities please contact the child life department at 937-641-3303.

Child Life Practicum Guidelines

Meet Our Child Life Team

Manager: Karen Muller, BS, CCLS

Rita Falkenbach. BS, CCLS

Kristy Rowe BA, CCLS

Laura McCallen, BS, CCLS

Lori Alfers, BS, CCLS

The child life department consists of certified child life specialists with a minimum of a bachelor's degree in human growth and development, education or a related field of study.

All certified child life specialists complete a 480-hour clinical internship, pass an examination and maintain professional development hours.

The child life specialists at Dayton Children's work in general pediatrics, critical care, hematology/oncology, medical imaging, emergency department and other areas when consulted.

For more information on the child life profession, visit


Child Life Practicum



Monday - Friday, 8:30 am- 5:00 pm


Superhero Day is just one example of how the child life specialists help make Dayton Children's a fun place for kids!

Family Support and Resources


The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815