Our Services

Child Life

Description of Services

The Child Life Department at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC provides developmental, educational, social and emotional support to children of all ages ranging from birth to young adulthood. The Child Life Department consists of Child Life Assistants, Child Life Specialists, and Music Therapists, who strive to help patients and families understand and cope with their hospital stay and their overall health care experience.


Child Life Assistants have diverse backgrounds with specialized training in child development and education. Within a family-centered care environment, the professional staff:

  • Implements developmentally appropriate individualized and group activities
  • Supports the psychosocial and developmental needs of children and their families
  • Escorts and acts as hospital representatives for entertainers and special guests
  • Processes community donations

Child Life Specialists are certified members of the Child Life Council with advanced degrees in child development, education or child life. They help educate children about new experiences and feelings that may occur before, during and after a hospital stay. Child Life Specialists:

  • Provide emotional support to children and their families
  • Prepare children and families for experiences such as admission and medical and surgical procedures
  • Assess children’s/teens’ development and behavior
  • Provide opportunities for normal play and therapeutic medical play
  • Teach techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety and suggest positive coping ideas during intrusive procedures
  • Give information regarding sibling support
  • Discuss bereavement and related issues when appropriate

Child Life’s Activity Centers are rooms where hospitalized children of all ages can relax in child-friendly environments. They are medical-free zones where no medical discussions or procedures are allowed. Supervised group and individualized play sessions take place daily. Bedside activities are offered to children who are on bed rest or in isolation.

Music Therapists, with extensive training in music and psychosocial interventions, are board-certified and are members of the American Music Therapy Association. Music Therapists:

  • Provide therapeutic music to help patients cope with procedures, pain and anxiety
  • Design musical opportunities for development of creativity, self-expression, self-esteem, and enjoyment
  • Provide soothing music to encourage relaxation
  • Support the grief and bereavement processes with culturally and spiritually sensitive music

Other services include:

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Last Update
August 19, 2015