What Is a Child Life Specialist?

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What Is a Child Life Specialist?

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Child Life Specialist Services at UnityPoint Health

March is Child Life Month. Our Certified Child Life Specialists at UnityPoint Health - Methodist advocate for children who are hospitalized and their families throughout their health care experience. Certified Child Life Specialists work as members of the interdisciplinary team to provide developmentally appropriate care that promotes the best outcome, every patient, every time!

What is a Child Life Specialist?

According to the Association of Child Life Professionals, infants, children and youth are not always able to successfully cope when faced with stressful and potentially traumatic events. In a health care setting, feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control and isolation can slow their development and negatively impact their physical and emotional health and well-being.

Certified Child Life Specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. They provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.1

Services Provided by Certified Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialists are specifically trained to help children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events, and the importance of their services has been well documented.

Child Life Specialists:

  • Prepare children for medical procedures or treatment using developmentally appropriate language that children understand
  • Introduce coping strategies to help reduce anxiety and enhance cooperation with the health care team
  • Provide support and distraction during medical procedures
  • Offer opportunities for play and expressive activities to encourage normal development and a sense of fun in spite of challenging circumstances
  • Promote family-centered care by providing information, advocacy and support to families of pediatric patients

At UnityPoint Health - Methodist

Our Child Life Specialists provide services to pediatric patients in the following departments: Inpatient Pediatrics, Surgery, Medical Imaging, Emergency Department, EEG, Endoscopy, and ECHO. Bereavement services are provided to children of adult patients in the CVICU, ICU, and Labor and Delivery. Child Life services are available Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m to 8 p.m.

Learn more about the UnityPoint Health - Methodist Child Life team

Contact Us

Office: (309) 672-2145
Cisco: (309) 636-3928
Email: childlife@unitypoint.org


  1. Association of Child Life Professionals, www.childlife.org, 2018.