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Child Life Services

Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompany a hospital experience. They are trained in teaching children and adolescents about medical procedures in a developmentally appropriate manner to support your child's specific needs and facilitate effective coping methods. A family-centered resource, they cater to patients 0-17 and their families.

You might spot them in many different places throughout the hospital system, including the Children's Emergency Department, the Pediatric Unit, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Pediatric Rehab, Day Surgery and Endoscopy.

Credentials of Our Child Life Specialists

Each Child Life Specialist has a minimum of a bachelor's degree in child life, child development, recreational therapy, or related field. After completing 600 hours of paid work or internship under the supervision of a certified Child Life Specialist, they must pass the Child Life Professional Certification Examination through the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Meet Our Specialists

Play, Support and Education for a Better Hospital Experience

Our Child Life Specialists help make your child's hospitalization a good experience by offering many forms of compassionate support:

Age-Appropriate Play and Activities

  • Encourage self-expression and normalization through general play, medical play and therapeutic activities.
  • Provide developmentally appropriate resources/activities/comfort items (playrooms, movies, video games, and crafts) to promote coping.
Education and Family Resources
  • Lead educational workshops, in-services and presentations highlighting the care of pediatric patients.
  • Collaborate with other medical team members to create educational resources for patients, families and medical staff.

Emotional Support

  • Reduce stress and anxiety for children, teens and families regarding the medical environment and experiences.
  • Support the emotional and educational needs of parents, siblings and family members who are with the patient.
  • Prepare children, teens and families for hospitalization, medical procedures and/or surgery according to age/development.
  • Facilitate and promote distraction to cope during medical procedures and examinations according to age/development.

Grief Support and Bereavement

  •  Provide emotional support for families during pediatric cases of trauma and bereavement.

If you are interested in speaking with a child life specialist, please ask your nurse or call 919-350-7744 to speak with a specialist directly or to leave a message for a specialist in the department your child is being served in.

Tips to Help You Prepare Your Child

Going to the hospital can be a stressful time for both you and your child. As parents, you are the experts. You know your child best and will be most effective in preparing your child or adolescent for hospitalization, a procedure or surgery. 

To learn more about how to mentally prepare children and teenagers for the following procedures, access the resources below.

When a child or teenager is in the hospital, it is also important to encourage them to play and engage in developmentally appropriate activities. Please review this information to help children and teenagers cope with hospitalization:

Day Surgery

Other Helpful Resources

childrens childlife specialists 

Children’s In-Kind Donations and Special Visitors

If interested in making an In-Kind Donation to WakeMed Children's from the Children's Wish List, please send a message to childlife@wakemed.org.

For inquiries about arranging a Special Visit with our pediatric patients, please send a message to childlife@wakemed.org.

Child Life Conference

See Our Prior

Conference Brochure

The Child Life Specialists at WakeMed offer conferences for child life professionals and students interested in pursuing a career in child life. There are no conferences scheduled at this time.

What: WakeMed Child Life Conference (Hosted by WakeMed Child Life Specialists)

When: TBD

Where: TBD

Time: TBD

Topics: Pediatric Rehab, Supporting Executive Functioning, Neurodiversity, Powerful Questioning, Abecedarian Approach to Healthy Development as well as Caregiver Coping and Well-being

PDH Credit: 6 hours

Price: $90 for Child Life Professionals, $75 for Child Life Students  (Lunch and light snacks included)

Registration: TBD

Cash payment: To register paying with cash the day of the conference, please email the completed registration to childlife@wakemed.org. Then, bring the exact registration fee amount in cash to the conference, to pay upon entry.

Check by mail registration: To register, please print the registration form and follow the directions on form for mailing the registration form and payment to WakeMed.

If you have any questions, please call 919-350-7166.