Saint Barnabas Health Care System: Child Life Program

The Charles Lafitte Foundation understands how difficult a hospital stay can be for both a child and their family.  CLF values the care and treatment of the whole child during these potentially traumatic experiences.  We are honored to have awarded $136,896 in grants to the Child Life Program.

Saint Barnabas cares for more pediatric patients than any other hospital in New Jersey.  More than 25,000 children were cared for in the Emergency Department in 2009 and nearly 3,000 children were hospitalized here.  The outpatient pediatric cancer and blood disorders programs cares for hundreds of children annually as does Saint Barnabas’s pediatric kidney disease program.  A common denominator throughout pediatric care at Saint Barnabas is the Child Life Program.  The Child Life Department is designed to provide psycho-social support to children and their families during the stressful period of hospitalization. To minimize the fear of hospitalization and reduce the stress associated with illness, the Child Life Department addresses the unique emotional and developmental needs of hospitalized children in a language they can understand. The relaxed and comfortable environment and trusting relationships built by the Certified Child Life Specialists and Creative Arts Therapists enable children to express their feelings and concerns regarding hospitalization and illness freely.

The Child Life Team brings a sense of normalcy and a little fun to the lives of sick children to ease the emotional impact of illness, treatment, and hospitalization.  Activities are offered that distract children from the hospital routine both at the bedside and in the Child Life Playroom.

Certified Child Life Specialists

Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) are professionals who are specially trained to help children and their families understand and manage the hospital experience. Certified Child Life Specialists strive to minimize the stress and anxiety that often accompany a hospital stay and medical procedures. Child Life Specialists are skilled in providing developmental, educational, and therapeutic interventions for hospitalized children and their families. Child Life Specialists support growth and development while recognizing family and individual strengths and respect different methods of coping.

What services do Child Life Specialists provide?

  • Preparation for tests, surgeries and other medical procedures
  • Support during medical procedures
  • Therapeutic medical play using special dolls, stuffed animals and medical equipment
  • Activities to continue normal growth and development of infants, children and adolescents in patient rooms and/or activity centers
  • Sibling support

Want to learn more about the Child Life Program at Saint Barnabas?  For more information check out the Child Life Program webpage:
http://www.saintbarnabas.com/services/pediatrics/childlife