Child Life Overview and Services

Bringing your child to the hospital can be a stressful time for you and your family. Depending on their age, children may experience difficulties while being hospitalized due to:

  • Separation from family
  • Change in routine
  • Unfamiliar faces
  • Misunderstandings about their treatment
  • Fear of upcoming procedures
  • Loss of control

At BayCare Kids, we believe that having a strong Child Life Department can make your hospital experience one where you and your child feel supported and empowered as active partners in the healing process. Our Child Life Specialists provide services at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital as well as the pediatric ERs and pediatric inpatient units at Mease Countryside Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital-South.

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Child Life Specialists are bachelor's and master's trained professionals certified by the national Association of Child Life Professionals. They specialize in child development and are well versed to the reactions of children in health care settings and can provide interventions to hospitalized children based on individual needs, specializing in meeting the psychosocial, emotional, developmental and recreational needs of each patient.

As part of your child's healthcare team, your Child Life Specialist will work closely with doctors, nurses and social workers to help you and your child adapt to and cope with hospitalization.

What Does a Child Life Specialist Do?

Whether your child is in one of our pediatric ER centers or has been admitted to one of our children's hospital locations our Child Life Specialists offer:

Emotional Support

  • Establishes a non-threatening relationship to build trust
  • Works with you and your child to help your child cope with difficult procedures
  • Provides emotional support and encourages expression of feelings
  • Advocates for patient and family-centered care
  • Supports families confronting grief and bereavement situations

Developmentally Appropriate Support

  • Explains procedures, diagnosis and the surgery process by using developmentally appropriate language
  • Allows patients to "play doctor" before or after a procedure to help with understanding
  • Helps siblings understand the admission and treatment of the patient
  • Helps medical staff understand your child's psychosocial and emotional needs

Recreational Support

  • Provides activities for play to help with hospital adjustment and stress management
  • Engages children and families to promote normalization by facilitating playroom activities, recreational activities, special events, outdoor activities and leisure planning

The Child Life Department also supervises volunteers that help to maintain hospital playrooms, provide bedside play opportunities and facilitate special events to help normalize the environment and promote developmentally appropriate play in all areas of the hospital.

For more information, call (813) 554-8155.

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital  
3001 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
Tampa, FL 33607 
(813) 554-8500

St. Joseph’s Children’s at Mease Countryside Hospital
3231 McMullen Booth Road 
Safety Harbor, FL 34695
(727) 725-6966

St. Joseph’s Children’s at St. Joseph’s Hospital-South 
6901 Simmons Loop Road 
Riverview, FL 33578   
(813) 302-8000