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Child Life Program

The Child Life Program was established to help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety of hospitalization.

Children at the park smiling

Child Life Specialists at UF Health Shands Children's Hospital are certified professionals who work in partnership with families, doctors, nurses and other caregivers to meet the unique emotional and developmental needs of children and families.

Child Life Specialists hold a bachelor or masters level degree in child development, therapeutic recreation or a related field. They have passed a national certification exam and completed a 600-hour internship.

What we do

  • Provide age-appropriate play and activities to promote coping, expression of feelings and adjustment to the healthcare setting
  • Prepare, educate and support children undergoing medical procedures and treatments to help them understand what to expect, clear up any misconceptions and build healthy coping skills
  • Provide non-threatening, age-appropriate explanations and preparations
  • Provide support and distraction for patients during medical procedures
  • Help children understand diagnosis or illness
  • Promote normal growth and development
  • Offer legacy building and memory making to help children cope with grief
  • Develop supportive relationships with patients and families and promote family centered care
Peds patient coloring

Hospital resources

We offer a variety of ways to help your child overcome his or her illness.

Santa and Peds patient

Special events

Special events mean a lot to our hospitalized children and adolescents, so let us know if you're interested in hosting one.

Gifts for patients

Ways to help

In-kind gifts are used in our inpatient units, playrooms, emergency room, and many more pediatric patient service areas.

Get involved

Looking to make a difference to a child in need? We offer volunteering opportunities as well as an internship program.

Capes for Kids patient

Contact us

  • Our phone number is (352) 594-6470
  • Mailing address:
    PO Box 100335
    1600 SW Archer Road
    Gainesville, FL 32610
  • For more information about Child Life, please visit