Child Life Programs and Spaces

Child Life

Child Life Programs and Spaces

The Child Life program at American Family Children’s Hospital is made up of trained professionals with backgrounds in child development.

Programs and Spaces

Family Lounges/Kitchens

The family lounges on the inpatient units are a great place for patients, families and visitors to spend time together outside of the patient room. These spaces include a TV, computers, games, puzzles and library of books to read. The units also have a kitchen where families can enjoy meals together. These kitchens also have coffee/tea and breakfast items available for parents and visitors.

Family Meals

Family meals, donated by community groups and sponsors, are provided a few nights per week to parents or caregivers at no cost. These are opportunities for families to gather for a meal together or to socialize with other families/visitors. Meals may also be combined with other special events or activities. Date, time and menu items for the family meals can be found on the calendars displayed in your inpatient room.

Hospital School

American Family Children's Hospital offers Madison's only Board of Education-approved Hospital School to help patients - from kindergarten through high school - keep up with their school work. Learn more about Hospital School and School Re-entry

Patient Family Liaison

Patient Family Liaisons help patients and families cope with the challenges of caring for their families when their child has been diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder. Liaisons connect families to programs and resources within the American Family Children’s Hospital and in the community and provide resources to various programs including the Hero Bead Program, Flashes of Hope, Parent Family Advisory Council, The Rainbow's End and open forum educational nights. Liaisons can also help direct patients and families to information about scholarships, camp information, local support groups, fun activities in the community, and online resources.

Pediatric Palliative Care

American Family Children’s Hospital is committed to excellent palliative care for children, whether a child has just been diagnosed, is in active treatment, has completed therapy, or is nearing the end of life. Palliative care treats the whole child and family, aiming to meet the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the patient and family.

Child Life Services:

  • Self-expression activities: Encourage and facilitate expressive art and therapeutic play opportunities to promote positive coping for patients and siblings.
  • Memory making and legacy building: Provide families with opportunities to create lasting memories and unique pieces of art.
  • Emotional support: Individualized support is offered for patients, siblings, and families to promote the best supportive care and quality of life for patients and families.
  • Education and resources for difficult conversations with children: Offer guidance and resources on serious illness, end of life, and grief discussions and experiences with children.

Pediatric Palliative Care Child Life services are offered to patient and families followed by the Pediatric Palliative Care Team at American Family Children’s Hospital while in the hospital and on an outpatient basis. If you would like to speak to a Pediatric Palliative Care provider please call (608) 263-6400 and ask the paging operator to page the on-call provider for Pediatric Palliative Care.

Pet Pals

The pet therapy program, known as Pet Pals, brings trained dogs to visit with patients and families to promote healing. Pet Pals is held every Tuesday evening and Saturday afternoon in the school room. Learn more about Pet Pals


The 24-hour playrooms are designed with children's developmental needs in mind. They include a variety of toys, arts and crafts, games, and other play items. There are daily scheduled activities to appeal to a variety of ages. If your child is unable to participate in the playroom, staff can offer suggestions for diversion and activities in your child's room. Learn more about Playrooms and Teen Rooms

Positive Image Center

Known as the only hospital-based center of its kind geared exclusively to children, the Positive Image Center at the American Family Children's Hospital provides a place where children can ease their anxiety about appearance-altering illnesses or procedures. Learn more about the Positive Image Center

Pre-surgery Tours

Call (608) 890-7888 to set up tours, which provide preparation and ease fears prior to surgery and is open to all family members. Tour guests become familiar with the medical equipment and visit all the areas patients go on the day of surgery.

Special Events/Visitors

In order to promote a positive hospital experience, Child Life hosts special events. Patients and families can participate in interactive games, virtual field trips, scheduled craft times, or seasonal activities. Other events include special visitors like our magician or one of many University of Wisconsin athletic sports teams.

Interactive BINGO can be played live on the first floor or on the TV in patient rooms, allowing all children and families to participate, including patients on bedrest and isolation. Bucky Badger leads Bucky BINGO once a month, with opportunities to win prizes. Manda Panda leads Medical BINGO once a month and features opportunities to learn about medical equipment.

Teen Rooms

Teen rooms are set up to meet the unique needs of teenage patients and siblings. The rooms are set up with video games, computers, arts and crafts, game tables, and offer special activities and projects to promote socialization. If your teen is not feeling up to participating in teen lounge events, staff can offer suggestions for diversion and activities at the bedside.  Learn more about Playrooms and Teen Rooms

Tyler's Place

Tyler's Place provides a place for the brothes and sisters of patients to play.Tyler's Place is a unique area in the American Family Children's Hospital where siblings can interact with other brothers and sisters while their sibling is in the hospital. Learn more about Tyler's Place


Through the generous contribution of their time, volunteers add to the quality of care and service provided at American Family Children's Hospital. They help Child Life by assisting with playroom events and activities, providing breaks to parents, supervising and cleaning playrooms, serving family meals, and helping with daily tasks. Learn more about becoming a volunteer

Youth Advisory Council (YAC)

Facilitated by Child Life Specialists, this group represents American Family Children's Hospital present and former patients, ages 8 to 18. YAC offers suggestions to help make the hospital more child-friendly and to focus on ways to improve the health care of all children. Learn more about the Youth Advisory Council