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Child Life Programs

What is a child life specialist?

Child Life ProgramAt Mother Frances Hospital, we understand that children of all ages may face stressful and potentially traumatic events that can prevent their natural ability to cope and heal.

Situations related to hospitalization and healthcare can cause feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control, and isolation. These feelings can reduce a child’s natural development and cause negative effects on physical and emotional health.

A Child Life Specialist is a trained professional with expertise in helping children and their families through the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury, and hospitalization. They are focused on helping our young patients and the children/siblings of our patients understand and manage the stress that comes with being in the hospital, as well as support emotional and developmental needs while spending time at Mother Frances Hospital.

Child life specialists have earned a bachelor's or master's degree with an educational emphasis on human growth and development or a related field of study. They adhere to a code of ethics and standards established by the Child Life Council, a professional organization which also administers the rigorous process for obtaining the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential. All Certified Child Life Specialists must complete a supervised clinical internship, pass an examination, and adhere to standards for continuing professional development in order to maintain their certification.

The Child Life Program provides:

  • Preparation for medical procedures or treatment.
  • Coping strategies to help reduce anxiety and enhance cooperation with the healthcare team.
    • Support and distraction during medical procedures.
  • Support and education to siblings of a newborn hospitalized in the NICU.

What About Me? Helping Siblings Cope with New Baby’s NICU Stay

Research has shown that...

  • Children who are prepared for medical procedures experience less fear and anxiety, and will have better long term adjustment to medical challenges.
  • Child life interventions can increase cooperation and help to reduce procedural and post-procedural pain.
  • Providing support for family members enhances psychosocial outcomes for young patients. A parent or caregiver's behavior and anxiety levels are strongly correlated with how a child will respond to hospitalization.

Child Life Programs are mandated by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Contact Information

This information was prepared by the Trinity Mother Frances Child Life Program, a service provided by The Children’s Miracle Network, at no cost to families.

If any child in your family is having difficulty coping with their medical situation or that of a loved one, please contact the Child Life Specialist at (903) 531-5935 or (903) 531-4627 or by email. We are here to help.

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