Where Can I Find Child Life?

Child Life

Where Can I Find Child Life?

Child Life's goal is to promote positive experiences for your child and to help him or her continue to grow throughout the hospital experience.

Child Life services are available throughout American Family Children's Hospital, including:

Burn Unit

Child Life Services

  • Adjustment to Hospitalization: Provide introduction to hospital and discuss what to expect during overnight stays, making the environment kid-friendly and allowing kids to be kids.
  • Procedure Support: Teach patients and families about upcoming procedures, develop coping plans, and provide developmentally appropriate items for distraction during procedures.
  • Medical Play: Allow children to use and play with medical equipment, become more familiar with supplies and increase understanding of their own health care experience
  • Therapeutic Activities: Use play to work through specific fears and difficult situations and allow children to express their feelings in a comfortable and safe environment.
  • Sibling Visits: Using pictures, medical equipment and child-friendly language to prepare children to visit siblings in the hospital, allowing opportunities for self-expression and providing support throughout hospitalization.
  • Daily Activities: Use art, games, projects and other activities to encourage peer interactions and distraction from the hospital environment. Activities are open to patients and their siblings.
  • Special Events: Including BINGO, a magician, and other special visitors.
  • Playrooms: The 24-hour playrooms are designed with children’s developmental needs in mind.

What to Bring

  • Child’s comfort item
  • Phone charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Favorite things to do (books, games, electronics)
  • Personal care items
  • Photos of family and friends

Learn more about the Burn Unit

Diagnostic Therapy Center/Radiology

Child Life Services

  • Procedure Support: Teach patients and families about upcoming procedures, develop coping plans, and provide developmentally-appropriate items for distraction during the procedure in order to minimize fear and anxiety.
  • Medical Play: Allow children to use and play with medical equipment, become more familiar with supplies, and increase understanding of their own health care experience.
  • Coping Techniques: Provide resources and opportunities to help children and families overcome the difficulties of potentially stressful/anxiety provoking experiences. Each coping plan is personalized based on the child and family's needs to make the most positive experience possible.
  • Day Treatment: Six-bed unit where children go when they need medicine for an extended period of time
  • Sedation Clinic: Seven-bed unit where children receive sedation to help them feel more relaxed for procedures. Staff works with each individual child to create a sedation plan using minimal, moderate or deep sedation. Learn more about our Pediatric Sedation Clinic
  • Campground: Six-bed unit where some children receive general anesthesia for imaging or for a procedure. Campground is also where children may check in for a procedure without any sedation but require an IV.
  • Radiology: Here you will find ultrasound, GI Radiology, PET/CT, MRI, and the Hybrid Lab
  • Playroom: These four areas share a playroom where children can find fun toys and games to promote normalization and diversion.

How to Prepare for Your Visit

  • Learn about your child’s procedures with our Teaching Sheets.
  • Encourage questions and conversations about the visit

What to Bring

  • Child’s comfort item
  • Favorite things to do (books, games, electronics)

Emergency Department

Child Life Emergency Department Services

  • Procedure Support: Teach patients and families about upcoming procedures utilizing age appropriate explanations and provide developmentally appropriate items for distraction during procedures to minimize fear and anxiety.
  • Medical Play: Allow children to use and play with medical equipment, become more familiar with supplies to increase understanding, and play out past experiences or current feelings related to their experience.
  • Trauma Support: Work alongside the medical team and provide support to patients during the trauma exam and process. Child Life Specialists provide updates to families , advocate for patient and family needs, assist in non-pharmacological pain control techniques, and encourage family presence and involvement at the bedside.
  • Preparation for the Operating Room (OR): Provide age-appropriate explanations of what patients can expect in the OR using pictures, medical equipment and anesthesia masks, in cases when emergent surgery is needed.
  • Pain Control/Comfort Measures: You, as a parent/guardian, are the patient’s best advocate when it comes to reading their cues of pain. We take your child’s pain very seriously and empower you and your child to inform us of pain and how we can help. Child Life Specialists are able to offer non-pharmacological pain management techniques such as deep breathing, guided imagery, distraction, and utilizing items such as Buzzy Bee, to help the patient relax, focus on enjoyable thoughts and activities, and develop coping techniques to use outside of the hospital as well.
  • Sibling Support/Education: Siblings are an important part of our care and it is crucial that a sibling is included in the understanding of what is happening with their brother or sister. Child Life Specialists can use age appropriate explanations and honest information to help prepare a sibling for what they may see and hear, and people they may encounter when visiting. Play opportunities are available to siblings, and if the patient is admitted, siblings over the age of three are able to utilize Tyler’s Place.

For continued care, children may need to be admitted from the ED to American Family Children’s Hospital, where Child Life also provides services to the Children’s Hospital’s inpatient units. We understand an emergency department visit can be unexpected and are able to provide comfort items such as blankets and stuffed animals, toiletry items, and information on amenities available for families.

Child Life can also explain to the patient and family what to expect when an admission is needed and pass on patient preferences or experiences that occurred in the emergency department to the inpatient Child Life Specialist.

Helpful items to bring to your Emergency Department visit:

  • Child’s comfort item
  • Phone charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Favorite things to do (books, games, electronics)
  • Medications and important documents

Inpatient Units

Certified Child Life Specialists at American Family Children’s Hospital help children, adolescents and families cope with the fear and anxiety associated with the medical environment and hospitalization. Inpatient Child Life Specialists reach all inpatient units, areas and specialties, including PICU, NICU, Palliative Care, General Pediatrics, Universal Care, and all diagnostic specialties.

Inpatient Child Life Services

  • Adjustment to Hospitalization: Provide introduction to hospital and discuss what to expect during overnight stays, making the environment kid-friendly.
  • Play: Encourage opportunities for play, movement, and self-expression in order to help patients of all ages and their siblings cope with the hospital or medical experiences. Play encourages patients and siblings to still be kids and it helps the hospital to feel like a “normal” place.
  • Procedure Support: Teach patients and families about upcoming procedures, develop coping plans, and provide developmentally-appropriate items for distraction during procedures.
  • Medical Play: Allow children to use and play with medical equipment, become more familiar with supplies and increase understanding of their own health care experience.
  • Therapeutic Activities: Use play to work through specific fears and difficult situations and allow children to express their feelings in a comfortable and safe environment.
  • Sibling Visits: Using pictures, medical equipment and child-friendly language to prepare siblings for visiting the hospital, allowing opportunities for self-expression and providing support throughout hospitalization.
  • New Diagnosis Teaching: Use teaching dolls, medical equipment and age-appropriate language to help patients, families and siblings understand new diagnoses and courses of treatment.
  • Daily Activities: Use art, games, projects and other activities to encourage peer interactions and distraction from the hospital environment. Activities are open to patients and their siblings.
  • Special Events: Including BINGO, magic acts and special visitors.
  • Playrooms: The 24-hour playrooms are designed with children's developmental needs in mind. Learn more about Playrooms and Teen Lounges

How to Prepare for Your Visit

  • Request a tour by calling (608) 890-7888.
  • Learn about your child’s procedures with our Teaching Sheets.
  • Encourage questions and conversation about hospitalization by talking to your children about their upcoming hospital stay.
  • Inform school and other groups of the upcoming hospital stay.

What to Bring

  • Child’s comfort items and items for normal routines (i.e., bedtime)
  • Phone/tablet charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Favorite things to do (books, games, electronics)
  • Personal care items
  • Photos of families and friends

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.

Learn more about pediatric palliative care

Pediatric Specialty Clinics

Child Life Services

  • Procedure Support: Teach patients and families about upcoming procedures, develop coping plans, and provide developmentally-appropriate items for distraction during the procedure in order to minimize fear and anxiety.
  • Medical Play: Allow children to use and play with medical equipment, become more familiar with supplies, and increase understanding of their own health care experience.
  • Coping Techniques: Provide resources and opportunities to help children and families overcome the difficulties of clinic visits. Each coping plan is personalized based on the child and family's needs to make the most positive experience possible.

How to Prepare for Your Visit

  • Learn about your child’s procedures with our Teaching Sheets.
  • Encourage questions and conversations about the visit
  • Make a plan for siblings or other children

What to Bring

  • Child’s comfort item (pacifier, blanket, stuffed animal)
  • Favorite things to do (books, games, electronics)

Learn more about the American Family Children’s Hospital and Specialty Clinics

Surgery

Child Life Surgery Services

  • Preparation for the Operating Room (OR): Provide age-appropriate explanations of what patients can expect in the OR using pictures, medical equipment and anesthesia masks on the day of surgery
  • Support During Induction: Help patients and families make coping plans to use during induction of anesthesia, provide support to parents and children in the OR, provide distraction activities during anesthesia induction to ease fears and provide a positive experience in the OR.
  • Child Life Playroom: Kids and their families are invited to spend time in the Child Life Playroom before surgery to play, color, or read books. Be sure to check out our operating room corner, too.

How to Prepare for Your Visit

  • Request a tour by calling (608) 890-7888: Patients and families will tour the pre-/post-operative unit, see pictures of the operating and recovery rooms and tour an inpatient room, if an overnight stay is anticipated. Patients also receive a surgery tour packet complete with anesthesia mask and surgical caps to practice at home.
  • Review our preparation video (below) and additional teaching tools

What to Bring

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Child’s comfort item
  • Favorite things to do (books, games, electronics)

UW Health at The American Center

Child Life Services

A Child Life Specialist is available to support teen patients ages 14-18 who are having surgery at UW Health at The American Center. Quite often this staff member is called a “Teen Life Specialist.” The Teen Life Specialist helps prepare teens for surgery, creates coping plans for procedures, and works with teens and their families to explore and develop a coping plan for their transition back to home and school.

Teen Life's goal is to help teenagers shape their medical experience in a positive way. They work with the health care team to help empower teens with tools and resources for long-term coping as they transition to adult care.

What to Bring

Comfortable clothes