The Chase Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to financially supporting hospital-based programs that cater to the social, emotional and developmental needs of children, has donated $2.125 million to the Child Life/Child Development program at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital.
In recognition of the gift, UCLA officially rededicated the program as the Chase Child Life program at a March 28 ribbon-cutting event held at the hospital.
The Child Life program helps address the unique needs of pediatric patients by promoting effective coping through play, preparation, education and self-expression activities. It provides emotional support for families and encourages the optimal development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to health care and hospitalization.
"We are thrilled to announce that The Chase Foundation has partnered with the Child Life program at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital," said foundation co-founder Robin Richards. "Our commitment to the hospital over the next 20 years will provide additional funding to expand and enhance child life services available to hospitalized pediatric patients. We look forward to building our relationship with UCLA and working with their terrific staff."
The Chase Foundation also announced additional funding to create a therapeutic healing garden on the hospital's outdoor Tisch Family Children's Terrace to promote coping and wellness. Pediatric patients and their families will be able to participate in hands-on gardening lessons and enjoy the garden's fragrant beauty. An artist's rendering of the healing garden, which is still in the early planning stages, was unveiled at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"We are tremendously grateful for the generous support of The Chase Foundation," said Child Life program director Amy Bullock. "There is no doubt that in the decades to come, their significant gift will help transform a hospital stay into a much brighter experience for countless children and their families."
The Chase Foundation's goal is to generate significant financial support for child life programs and to create healing play spaces for children in hospitals. Susan and Robin Richards founded The Chase Foundation in loving memory of their son, Chase, who passed away shortly after his second birthday. Cancer took his life, but in his last few weeks, Chase and his sisters were able to play, draw, be with other children and forget about his illness, even if only for a few minutes, thanks to child life specialists. After Chase passed, the Richards family dedicated themselves to helping secure financial resources to see that every hospitalized child gains access to the Child Life program and its art, play, therapy and interactive programs.
The Chase Child Life program at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital is staffed by child life specialists who are part of an interdisciplinary, family-centered model of care. They focus on the social, emotional and developmental needs of hospitalized children by communicating accurate and age-specific information, identifying potential stressors, and planning and practicing coping strategies. Each professional staff member holds a bachelor's or master’s degree in child life, child development, education and/or psychology and is professionally certified and affiliated with the Child Life Council. UCLA's program offers a variety of specialized services, including therapeutic intervention (including music, dance and art therapy and medical play); pre-hospitalization visits for children and their families; developmental preparation and support before, during and after medical procedures; supervision of the children's playroom, state-of-the-art teen lounge and family resource room; organization of special events that entertain and engage children and families; and much more. Established in 1968, UCLA's program was one of the first of its kind in the country and continues to be a model for other medical centers.