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about child life

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.

our team

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 600-hour clinical internship, pass an examination and maintain professional development hours.

The child life specialists at Dayton Children's work in:

  • Emergency department: Child life specialists in the emergency department help with preparing kids for procedures such as stiches, providing support for families and helping to provide distractions during what can be a scary and overwhelming visit.
  • Surgery: Our child life specialist in surgery helps children both before and after surgery. She works with patients to talk through what is going to happen in surgery and provides distraction techniques. For children with special needs our child life specialist will contact the family prior to their surgery to discuss coping strategies for before and after surgery.
  • General pediatrics: Our child life specialists on our inpatient units prepare patients and provide distraction for medical procedures using play and education. They also provide age appropriate play and activity sessions.
  • Hematology/oncology: Our dedicated child life specialist for hematology/oncology has vast experience working with children with cancer and blood disorders. She helps prepare patients for tests and procedures and provides support during infusions. She coordinates fun activities for patients and also leads the Emily’s Beads of Courage program which provides cancer patients with a bead for every milestone in their cancer journey. Lastly, she works with patient’s schools to do school visits in order to help talk to a child’s classroom about their diagnosis.
  • Medical imaging: Our medical imaging child life specialist provides support during VCUGs, MRIs and CT scans. By using iPads, pretend equipment, a sensory rover and other distraction tools she helps to explain what will happen during the procedure and keeps the child calm during the procedure. Learn more about the MRI STAR (soaring toward anxiety reduction) program
  • Laboratory: The laboratory department and child life department at Dayton Children's Hospital earn the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This designation means that the lab and child life teams had to complete a rigorous training and certification program to help them better assist autistic patients or those with other sensory sensitivities. Learn more about how to schedule a lab draw with child life team. 

other services we offer:

  • Activities for patients
  • Music therapy 
  • "Paw Prints" pet therapy program with volunteer resources
  • Special events and entertainment
  • iPads for patient use
  • Halloween celebrations
  • Superhero Day every January
make a donation kids wish list

Many of the items child life uses for our patients are given by generous donors. Make a donation to child life today.

give today

From bubbles to iPads, our child life specialists use all sorts of fun items given by generous donors to help make a patient’s hospital stay a little easier.

give today