Your child's needs in the hospital are similar to those at home: He or she needs to feel secure, comforted, and able to understand what is going on. These needs are often magnified by the stress of illness and hospitalization. The Child Life program at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital provide emotional and psychosocial care to help make the hospital experience as manageable as possible for children and their family members.
Certified child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in child development; helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events. Certified child life specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. We want to help your child understand, cope with and master their medical experience.
Child life specialists can be found in many areas of our hospital. They recognize and address your child's reactions to the stresses of illness and medical procedures by providing evidence based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions, including, but are not limited to, therapeutic play, education to reduce fear, anxiety and increase pain management to normalize hospitalization.
For more information about child life specialists and services, visit the Association of Child Life Professionals.
Reasons to Call
You know your child best, and as child life specialists we want to know how your child usually acts, what makes your child comfortable, and how you calm your child’s fears. Child Life Specialists are available for many reasons:
- Education on a new diagnosis
- Normalizing the hospital experience through therapeutic play
- Procedural preparation, support and distraction
- Preparation for surgery
- Pain management and relaxation
- School re-entry preparation/school visits
- Transition and recovery guidance to caregivers
- Sibling education and support
- Bereavement support
Child Life Centers
During your hospital stay you will have access to the child life centers which have toys, books, mobiles and other activities for children of all ages. If your child is on bedrest or under isolation precautions, play can take place at your child's bedside or in one of our child life centers, which are located on the Tower 4, 5, and 6 units. Morning and afternoon staffed playroom hours enable you to take a break while your child is supervised at play. Playtime helps to normalize your child's environment and reduce stress.
For siblings ages 5 and older who plan to visit the hospital, we recommend Charna's Kids Club as a place for them to enjoy therapeutic play activities. To ensure the safety of both patients and siblings, the siblings of patients under isolation precautions can receive services at bedside.
Additional Child Life Services
The child life department is fortunate to have the assistance of volunteers in many of our units. Child Life Department volunteers provide services at bedside, in our playrooms and in the sibling program. Occasionally, we have outside community groups provide services for our patients, such as animal assisted therapy program NYP Paws for Patients and The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’s Hospital Outreach Program. If you are interested in learning more, please speak to your child life specialist. If you are interested in being a volunteer, please visit the volunteer services website.
The Child Life department appreciates donations of new toys, games, books, and activities for the children of our hospital and clinics. If you are interested in making a donation, please refer to How You Can Help.