Lurie Children’s tries diligently to be sure that the hospital is not a scary environment for our patients and families. A child life specialist is a trained professional who helps children and their families understand and normalize the hospital environment. They are skilled at providing developmentally appropriate support, preparation and therapeutic play opportunities to decrease anxieties associated with being in the hospital.
Lurie Children’s has child life specialists located at our main hospital and also at our outpatient satellite locations who are there to help your child understand their diagnosis or procedure in an age-appropriate way. They also help support siblings, guide families through bereavement and assist in legacy making.
Lurie Children’s Child Life Specialists assess, support and advocate for each child’s physical and emotional needs. Beth Ryan, Senior Child Life Specialist, works with patients in the hospital’s Lekotek program, a therapeutic, play-based initiative that supports the development of children with special needs. Watch this special moment where therapeutic play makes a young boy’s day.
As members of your child's healthcare team, child life specialists partner with families to tailor interventions to best meet each child’s individual needs. They provide:
Preparation before surgery, exams and other potentially anxiety-provoking experiences by using developmentally appropriate language, books and other teaching materials to reduce stress and increase understanding.
Medical play by using specially adapted dolls, as well as real and pretend medical equipment, to enhance understanding and clarify misconceptions.
Help to manage pain and encourage relaxation by offering various techniques such as comfort positioning, guided imagery and deep breathing exercises.
Procedural support by modeling positive coping strategies using developmentally appropriate items such as bubbles, viewmasters and books.
Developmental play opportunities to promote continued development through age-appropriate activities at the bedside, in play groups and in outpatient waiting areas. View our resources below:
Sibling support to help siblings understand what is happening, help them work through their feelings and answer their questions about the hospital experience.
Bereavement support by providing support and resources for grief and bereavement issues.
Support for children with special needs by individualizing care and adapting the environment for specialized learning and coping. This support occurs with collaboration with our Lekotek program. Please feel free to fill out the survey below prior to your appointment or admission and bring it with you to better inform our staff about your child’s special needs. Patient and Family Coping Questionnaire
To request a child life specialist, call 312.227.3270 or from inside the hospital, ask a member of your medical team to page a child life specialist. We are available seven days a week, 365 days a year.
These are stressful times. If you would like to contact a social worker, psychologist or child life specialist for information on community referrals or coping resources, you can call 312.227.4118 and leave a message. Your call will be returned within 24 hours, Monday through Friday. Non-urgent questions only. For emergencies, call 911.
Our child life specialists all work in different areas with different units, so their day-to-day tasks can vary greatly. Take a look at their information below to learn which child life specialist might be working with your child.
Amanda Anderson MS, CCLS | 312.227.2932 | firstname.lastname@example.org Available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Protective Services Team/Safety and Well-Being Clinic (Outpatient Center in Lincoln Park)
Brooke Baffa, MS, CCLS | 312.227.8189 | email@example.com Available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 6 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. — Outpatient Ambulatory, Surgery and Interventional Radiology/Cardiac Cath (Main Hospital)