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Child Life 101

Child life specialists help kids and families navigate their illness, injury, or hospitalization to promote healing and happiness

What is a Certified Child Life Specialist?

Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) help pediatric patients and their families cope with the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty of being injured, seriously ill, hospitalized, and more. Armed with a strong background in child development, child life specialists work within a multidisciplinary team to not only reduce fear and anxiety for children but to also engage them in medical play, diagnosis education, and procedural preparation.

Most importantly: they help kids be kids

Starlight programs help families reconnect during a difficult time. Families with extended hospitalization need to have time to reconnect and check out of the constant stress.

- Rebecca Martin, CCLS at UnityPoint Health Methodist

How can a Child Life Specialist help you and your family?

At Starlight, we know having a sick or hospitalized child can be extremely stressful and scary, not just for the child, but for the whole family as well: this where Child Life Specialists come in. Part of their role is to engage both their pediatric patient and the patient’s family using therapeutic play activities to encourage emotional expression and create coping plans, while also helping everyone understand the treatment plan and advocating for the family.

Jay Gunning Starlight SEA Chemo Gaming Station Child Life 101

You can support these healthcare heroes and the seriously ill kids they support by donating today to help deliver more Starlight programs to hospitals across the US.
Donate Today

When and how can child life specialists use Starlight programs?

Child life specialists at Starlight’s hospital partners are able to use Starlight programs at various moments throughout a child’s hospital stay, treatment, and doctor’s visits.

  • Starlight Hospital Wear can be given to a child the moment they have to change out of their normal clothes into a hospital gown; the Gowns can transform an extremely stressful moment into a moment of joy and comfort.

  • Starlight Gaming meets strict infection safety protocols and can roll anywhere in the hospital to provide sick kids and their families hours of fun and entertainment.

  • Plus, Starlight Virtual Reality can be utilized by child life specialists during a child’s treatment, such as chemotherapy, IV placements, and more, to help distract them during these difficult moments.

Find out more about how Starlight programs can impact seriously ill kids

Starlight programs make them smile and gives our patients activities when they are limited.

- Jessica Claspill–Garcia, CCLS at Good Samaritan Hospital

Not everything in life goes as planned, so if your child ever ends up needing an outpatient surgery, a trip the emergency room, or a longer treatment in the hospital, remember you can always ask for a child life specialist. They are there to help you and your child through life’s most difficult and stressful moments.

Are you a child life specialist and want your hospital to receive Starlight Programs?

Register your hospital today on the Starlight Hub!

  1. Blog 20 03 01 Becca CCLS

    Meet Becca, Certified Child Life Specialist and former Starlight Kid

    Meet Becca
  2. Blog 21 03 11 CLS Starlight Kids

    Celebrating Child Life Specialists

    See Their Impact
  3. Blog 20 03 24 Kerri

    Meet Kerri, Certified Child Life Specialist at Greenwood Leflore Hospital

    Meet Kerri

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