Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialists help children cope with unfamiliar medical procedures or settings. We provide age-appropriate education and skills for children and their families.

Chase Child Life Superheros
Nurse Talking with Injured Boy

UCLA Health excellence in Child Life

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Medical procedures, unfamiliar surroundings and new faces can all be stressful for children. At UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital and pediatric specialty clinics, Child Life Specialists help our youngest patients cope with fear and anxiety by offering therapeutic activities tailored to their social, emotional and educational needs. Since it was founded in 1968, the Chase Child Life Program has been a pioneer and national model for appropriately addressing each child’s needs in a culturally sensitive manner.

Child Life program highlights:

Experts in child development: Our Child Life Specialists are integrated with the health care team to help children cope with illness and hospitalization. We offer age-appropriate information to children and parents, identify potential sources of stress and teach coping strategies. Our specialists also provide valuable insight to the child’s medical team about developmental and psychosocial issues.

Support for the whole family: We work with parents and siblings as well as our pediatric patients. Our specialists can help caregivers and family members understand a child’s response to the medical setting and provide strategies to continue supportive and empathetic caregiving.  

Teaching and training: We offer educational and training opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. The Child Life team continually stays at the forefront of best practices and research as we teach the next generation of Child Life experts.

Child Life services we offer

Our Child Life Specialists help our youngest patients and visitors cope with the unexpected and unfamiliar feelings that come with a hospital visit. Learn More: Child Life Services We Offer

Our specialized programs include:

Music therapy

Music therapy uses music-based interventions to address cognitive, social, emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual needs. It can help with:

  • Anxiety, stress and pain management
  • Cognitive, neurologic, social and emotional development
  • Family support and bonding
  • Normalization of the hospital environment
  • Refocusing and relaxing during routine care and medical procedures

A credentialed music therapist tailors sessions to the needs and preferences of each person. We provide complimentary music therapy services to all ages, at the bedside and in playroom areas. 

The Music Therapy Program at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital is supported by the Peterson Family Foundation. UCLA Health doctors, nurses, social workers, Child Life Specialists and other hospital staff can request a music therapy referral on your child’s behalf. If you have questions about music therapy, call 310-267-9426.

How can a Child Life Specialist support my family?

Child Life Specialists support pediatric patients and their families in a wide variety of ways. We provide:

  • Assistance with transitioning from hospital to home, school or both after an illness
  • Consultations with caregivers, siblings and children of adult patients to help them understand the effects of an illness on their family
  • Expert insights to the medical team members regarding child development and related issues
  • Pre-hospitalization visits for children and families to tour the facility and prepare for upcoming procedures
  • Supervision of our playroom, Starlight Room/Teen Lounge, Family Resource Room and outpatient play areas
  • Special events to entertain and engage children and families
  • Support before, during and after medical procedures
  • Therapeutic interventions, including music therapy and play to help children cope with issues related to their medical care or illness

Meet our Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialists are experts in helping children and their families navigate and cope with the anxiety and stress of a hospital stay or medical procedure. We understand how each child’s developmental, emotional, physical and psychosocial needs affect their reaction to medical care.

Whether providing insight to the child’s medical team or working with your family directly, we strive to help make each child’s visit to UCLA Health as comfortable as possible.

Contact us

Call 310-267-9440 to learn more about Child Life Specialists at UCLA Health or to request a referral.

Find your care

Whether your child is a patient with us or has a family member in the hospital, Child Life Specialists can help.

Call 310-267-9440 to learn more about Child Life Specialists at UCLA Health.