Child Life Services works with patients and families to promote a positive medical experience.

Our certified child life specialists are trained in child development and the unique needs of children, teens, and families in the hospital. Through play, child life specialists create a friendly environment to help your child feel more comfortable.


What is a child life specialist?

Child life specialists are part of the health care team. They are professionally trained in understanding and meeting the unique needs of children and teens in the health care environment. All child life specialists are required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in child life, child development, child and family studies or a related field. The Association of Child Life Professionals provides professional certification for child life specialists.


Our Services

Child life specialists at Williamson Medical Center work with our pediatric patients and their families to reduce the stress and anxiety that may be associated with the health care experience. They work to meet developmental, psychosocial, educational, and emotional needs of patients and families by:

  • Promoting normal growth and development through play and activity rooms
  • Providing opportunities to help children enhance their self-esteem and retain appropriate independence
  • Advocating for non-medical needs of patients and families
  • Increasing patients’ and families’ understanding of hospital experiences



Meeting social, emotional and psychological needs

In order to address social, emotional and psychological needs, we offer the following child life services:

  • Preparing children, teens and families for hospitalization, procedures, and surgeries in ways they can understand
  • Providing psychological preparation before medical procedures to help patients and families better understand the hospital experience
  • Providing emotional support during and after procedures or stressful events
  • Providing opportunities for medical play, helping children better understand the health care experience by addressing misconceptions and answering questions about their experiences
  • Providing play opportunities and peer interactions in the Child Life Room and at bedside
  • Providing sibling support, including education regarding patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and the hospital environment
  • Advocating for family-centered-care
  • Offering emotional support to parents, siblings, and other family members
  • Facilitating school re-entry
  • Coordinating volunteers to give families breaks, help provide infant stimulation, and play activities for patients



When to request a child life specialist

  • My child is nervous about or has questions about an upcoming procedure or test.
  • My child needs help coping during a procedure or test.
  • My child’s brother or sister has concerns about the hospital.
  • My child has had a traumatic experience.
  • My child is having difficulty coping with hospital or doctor visits.
  • My child has a long-term condition or was just diagnosed with one.
  • My child is coming to the hospital and would benefit from a pre-admission visit.
  • My child needs age-appropriate toys/activities.
  • I have questions about my child’s developmental needs.
  • I need suggestions for talking to my child about his or her hospital experience.


Siblings are encouraged to visit

We want your child’s hospital visit to feel as normal and comfortable as possible. That’s why we encourage parents and guardians with multiple children to bring the siblings to be part of the hospital experience.


Additional Resources

Child Life Room

Play is an important activity that helps normalize the environment and facilitate coping for patients who are here in the hospital.

Our Child Life Room offers a safe space away from procedures and medical staff where your children can be themselves.

Overlooking a colorful hot-air balloon mural, our Child Life Room features a television and age-appropriate toys and games for all children from infants to teenagers. Everything in the room, including the room itself, is cleaned daily.


  • If your child is restricted to his or her room, an adult may go to the playroom to borrow toys, activities and games.
  • Siblings and friends who are healthy and up to date with immunizations may play in the room.
  • Because many patients have dietary restrictions, food and drinks are not allowed in the playroom.
  • Exams and medical procedures are not allowed in the playroom.


The Power of Play-Doh®

Play-Doh® has entertained the minds of children for generations, but it’s not just a fun toy to play with at home. Certified Child Life Specialist, Stephanie Hegel, describes the positive impact Play-Doh® can have on a child’s hospital experience, and why it’s the top item on our Wish List.