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What Do You Know About Our Child Life Team?

Did you know that March is Child Life Month?

We’re going to celebrate by teaching you about our department and about the many services we provide as we work alongside you.

Child Life Week
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Day 1:

Did You Know Child Life Provides a Variety of Services to Patients and Families?

Child Life specialists and activity coordinators work together to help patients and their families cope with a visit to the medical center by providing services such as play, preparation, education, and teaching coping skills. Child Life specialists help to address stressors or fears that a patient may face, advocate for a patient’s needs, and provide normalization.


Child Life Services include:

  • Activities and toys for families to engage in while they are in their patient room.
  • Developmentally appropriate teaching about diagnosis, treatments and life changes.
  • Opportunities to desensitize and explore real medical equipment through play (medical play).
  • Preparation for medical exams, procedures and surgeries.
  • Assistance with coping strategies, distraction and/or support during stressful events.
  • Support to siblings and other family members visiting a patient.
  • Celebration of birthdays, milestones, holidays and essential life experiences.
  • A visit to a child's school after life-altering injury or chronic illness to help classmates understand and make it easier for the patient when returning to classes.
  • Developmental assessments and referrals to community resources.
  • End-of-life support to patient and family as well as bereavement support for family members.

Day 2:

Do You Know Who All is a Part of Our Child Life Department?

Child Life specialists may be some of the faces you see the most regularly, but we have many other members of our team:

  •  Activity coordinators provide and facilitate play opportunities for patients
  •  Sit…Stay…Play is our facility dog program where we currently have six dogs. Our dogs provide many services including distraction, unconditional love, motivation, social interaction, and emotional support.
  • The Child Life Zone is a medical free area where we offer games, events, a library, a recording studio, a broadcasting studio, and so much more.  
  • Our CARPE team is made up of music therapists, a resident artist, and a drama therapist who provide opportunities for expression and control through a variety of artistic media.
  • Laughter League is the team of therapeutic medical clowns that provide humor and laughter to help our patients in their healing.
  • Our school program includes Fort Worth ISD teachers who partner with Cook to provide school services to hospitalized patients.

 Without each member of the team, we would not be able to provide the support that we do to our patients and their families.

Day 3:

Do You Know the Patient Care Areas our Child Life Staff Covers?

Inpatient units

Our Child Life team has Child Life specialists on every inpatient unit Monday-Friday. We also have evening and weekend coverage for the whole hospital. Most inpatient units also have activity coordinators on the team too!

Intensive Care Units

There are dedicated Child Life specialists in each of the intensive care units, including two Child Life specialists in PICU and Neuro ICU, two Child Life specialists in the NICU, and one Child Life specialist in the Cardiac ICU.

Emergency Department:

We have a team of 10 Child Life specialists in the Emergency Department providing coverage seven days a week from 7 a.m.-3 a.m. 

Dodson Specialty Clinics

We have Child Life specialists in every clinic in Dodson Specialty Clinics as well as some of the outlying clinics like Grapevine and Abilene.

Surgery Areas (Dodson Surgery Center and Outpatient Perioperative Services)

Our Child Life specialists who cover our surgery areas arrive early to meet patients and families before they head back for surgery.

Outpatient Procedures (Radiology and SPA)

We have Child Life specialists in our outpatient procedure areas to provide preparation and support for both awake and sedated procedures.

Urgent Care Centers

We hope to expand Child Life services to various Urgent Care Centers in the coming months!

Day 4:

Do You Know our Child Life Team Extends Beyond Cook Children's?


It is sometimes thought that child life specialists work primarily inside the walls of Cook Children's. While this is true for a large percentage of the work our Child Life department does, this work often extends beyond our walls.

 Below are some of the programs and interventions that our Child Life specialists lead or assist in to help meet the emotional and coping needs for the patients and families at Cook Children’s.

Support Groups: Along with other members of the medical team, child life specialists help coordinate diagnosis specific support groups that encourage emotional processing, teach coping skills, and provide community for patients and families.

Camps for Kids: Camps for Kids is a Cook Children's program that offers patients and families the opportunity to experience the power of camp. While engaged in camps that are operated by camp staff as well as hospital staff, patients and families get the opportunity to get outside, participate in arts and crafts, receive medical education, and most importantly, build supportive, lasting relationships with others who shared similar life experiences.

Sib2Sib Program: Cook Children's Sib2Sib™ program provides services to siblings of children living with a chronic illness or life-changing disability, who are or have been patients at Cook Children's Medical Center. Events and activities include Sibshops and weekend camps.

Youth Advisory Council: Cook Children's Youth Advisory Council-Patients Advising for Change (YAC-PAC) is a group of current and former patients (6-12 grade) who work with hospital staff, sharing their perspective and suggestions to create a hospital environment that meets their needs, emotionally as well as physically. Our YAC-PAC members take a leadership role where they can speak freely, share ideas and provide a voice for other young patients.

School Visits: After a new diagnosis or life-altering injury, classmates and peers may have questions about a patient’s time in the hospital. Child life specialists can provide developmentally appropriate education about the hospital to help classmates understand and to make it easier for the patient when returning to school.

Day 5:

Did You Know How the Child Life Department has Adapted with COVID-19?

Child Life Zone-TV: The Child Life Zone-TV increased virtual activities and game shows to allow patients to participate to accommodate for social distancing practices.

“On Your Floor” or “At Your Door” Activities: Traditionally, the Child Life team provided special events in the atrium and other areas. Our community program coordinator has adapted these activities so they can be dropped off to patient rooms or provided in the playroom.

Special visitor Zoom calls: The Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas, Matthew McConaughey, TobyMac, Kendra Scott events, the Grinch, Bumblebee (Transformers)  and the one and only Santa Claus have visited with patients virtually through Zoom. 

Virtual Siblings Visits: Child Life specialists have talked with siblings over Zoom or the phone to facilitate their virtual visit with the patient, to provide developmentally appropriate education regarding the hospitalization, and to provide emotional support.

Virtual Support Groups, Prom and programming: When in-person events were put on hold, many groups adapted to provide these events virtually. A handful of support groups have continued to meet regularly over Zoom. Virtual Remembrance Ceremonies, which were created to still provide families an opportunity to honor their loved ones. Also, our annual prom for teenage patients had a virtual prom event with Jennifer Garner as a surprise guest.

 Happy Camper @ Home: Camps for Kids hosted two summers full of online camp for campers who would have traditionally had the opportunity to attend one of our summer camps.  Campers received boxes full of swag and supplies they would need to participate in online programing and through live events.   Campers were able to learn new skills, complete camp activities with their family, and experience a little bit of camp magic.  Some camps even hosted “day Camps” via Zoom!

The pandemic has changed how the medical world, Cook Children's and our jobs in particular have looked. While we had to halt or slow down on some of the services we were providing, we still wanted to make sure families were receiving the support they need while at our medical center. Our department has had to get creative and adapt our services to still reach our patients and their families.

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