A hospital stay can be a challenging and unfamiliar experience for children and their families. The Child Life Department at Sunrise Children's Hospital supports children and their families during hospitalization, illness, injury and treatment. Child life specialists are trained professionals with a bachelor's or master's degree in child development or a related field. Our specialists focus on the psychosocial needs of your child by collaborating and developing supportive relationships with their parents and other healthcare professionals to increase familiarity with our hospital environment.

Child Life Specialists help prepare children for medical treatments and procedures, which are explained using teaching tools, special dolls, photographs and medical equipment. Child life Specialists 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 is going to happen to them in the hospital, they are less anxious, more willing to cooperate and have less difficulty at home before and after the procedure.

Services Child Life provides

  • Orientation to the Pediatric, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
  • Support or distraction for patients undergoing anxiety-provoking procedures
  • Individualized explanations of medical tests, procedures, diagnoses and surgery at the child's developmental level
  • Facilitate Procedural support, pain management and coping education
  • Developmentally appropriate activities, such as games and art projects
  • Sibling preparation for visitation to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit or NICU
  • Growth and development education
  • Child life specialists coordinate special visits and donations to the children's hospital
  • Child Life Services operate our playroom, which provides kids of all ages with a break from the hospital routine. The playroom is a place just to have fun, a safe haven from medical procedures and the stress of hospitalization.

Pet Therapy

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. Let Child Life know if you would like a visit from one of our dogs.


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.