Child Life Assists Children and Families

A hospital stay can be a challenging and unfamiliar experience for children and their families. The Child Life Department at Sunrise Children's Hospital assists children and their families during hospitalization, illness, injury and treatment. Child Life Specialists work closely with the medical team to provide the best possible care for each child and family.

Our goal is to reduce the stress that can be caused by illness and hospitalization. We work with our patients and their families to ensure that their development, emotional and psychosocial needs are being met while they are cared for by the experts at Sunrise Children's Hospital.

Child Life Specialists help prepare children for medical treatments and procedures, which are explained using teaching tools, special dolls, photographs and medical equipment. We help determine each child's level of understanding, including any misconceptions he or she may have about the hospital experience. Child Life Specialists also help children develop coping strategies like imagery, distraction and relaxation to reduce anxiety. When children have an accurate understanding of what to expect they are less anxious, more willing to cooperate and have less difficulty at home before and after the procedure.

Services We Provide

  • Orientation to the Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Emotional support, guidance and help with stress-management
  • Individualized explanations of medical tests, procedures and surgery at the child's developmental level
  • Procedural support, pain management and coping education
  • Age-appropriate activities, such as games, reading and art projects
  • Sibling preparation for visitation to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Growth and development education
  • Holiday celebrations and coordinate special visitors and donations

Special Visitors

Pet Therapy

Tiki (shown here) is one of the dogs that visits the children at Sunrise Children's Hospital. The pets go room to room and make stops in the playroom. The dogs enjoy putting on a show for the children by doing tricks or allowing children to give them a treat.


Volunteers, who are trained by the child life staff, help supervise playrooms and spend time with children when parents need to take a break. Whether playing a board game, reading a book aloud or holding a baby, our volunteers help kids feel like kids. Learn more about becoming a volunteer.