Skip to main content
Update Location

My Location

Update your location to show providers, locations, and services closest to you.

Enter a zip code
Select a campus/region

Child Life Program

When children are hospitalized it can be a frightening experience for the child and the family. UF Health Jacksonville offers a Child Life Program to help children cope and adjust during their stay in the hospital. The mission of the program is to comfort and educate. The program dedicates resources to reduce the stress or emotional trauma of hospitalization as it relates to the development, health and well-being of pediatric-aged patients and their families.

Inpatient Services

Medically fragile pediatric, neonatal, and Level I trauma patients are treated in the inpatient pediatric units. The Child Life Program plans and implements therapeutic activities that promote normal growth and development during a hospital stay. Coping skill education, procedural preparation and support, medical play, expressive arts and socialization are used to encourage patient and family comfort. An expedited healing process and improved patient well-being are benefits of Child Life care.

Pediatric Emergency Department Services

When emergent services are required to treat illness and injury, the Child Life Program helps children and families manage the stress of their condition. Developmentally friendly activities include education, support, and normalization of activities and the environment. Knowledge, diversion and distraction assist children in understanding and adapting to their medical care. The benefits of Child Life care include increased patient cooperation with their treatment plan and improved patient satisfaction.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

While in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) your family and newborn may receive support from a certified child life specialist in various ways. A certified child life specialist in the NICU is specially trained in child development and assisting patients and families in coping with hospitalization.

How We Help Newborns

  • Providing developmentally supportive play.
  • Promoting positive touch.
  • Supplying and using bedside toys and music.
  • Providing support during stressful or painful procedures.

How We Help Caregivers

  • Providing emotional support, education and resources.
  • Promoting ways for families to assist in supporting and caring for their baby during daily care and painful or stressful procedures.
  • Introducing ways for families to learn about the NICU and the hospital environment.
  • Suggesting ways to help families with their other children; for example, explaining why the baby is in the hospital, supporting the other children with separation anxiety from parents, and bonding with their new sibling.
  • Promoting creative ways for families to bond and capture their special moments in the NICU.

Resources We Provide

  • Comfort Cart
  • Snack Cart
  • Developmentally appropriate toys
  • Therapeutic and educational literature

Community Partnerships