Child Life Program

Child Life Specialists (CLS) help children and their families cope with needing care while at the hospital or from a doctor. Illnesses, procedures, and treatments cause children fear, anxiety, and stress. We help your child feel comfortable. We'll also help you and your family navigate these emotional and mental challenges.

Child Life Specialists are healthcare professionals who are specially trained in child development. Our support extends to your whole family. We're certified by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Your Child's Patient Experience at UVA Health

Whether this is your child’s first hospital experience or not, Child Life specialists help them:

  • Understand the meaning and scope of a diagnosis, illness, or treatment
  • Express stress, anxiety, and other emotions about their experiences
  • Find time and space to play with toys, games, arts, and crafts

We use medical play, therapeutic activities, and education to help your child:

  • Express and work through their feelings about their condition and care
  • Become familiar with the language and tools used during their treatment
  • Regain a sense of control and predictability

Family Support and Resources

A child in the hospital affects the whole family. We offer guidance to parents balancing the needs of their child in the hospital and other children at home.

We can send home educational materials for siblings, set up communication between the hospitalized child and siblings, and sometimes arrange for sibling visits to the hospital. 

See our recommendations, including when and what to say to help your child prepare, and our resources for families.

Contact the Child Life Specialist Team

We’re available Monday – Friday from 7:00 am - 9:00 pm, and Saturday – Sunday from 7:30 am - 4:00 pm. If you need our services or would like to discuss how we can help your child, you can reach us by email or call 434.409.7107.