Child Life Program: Overview

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

Kids playing on playgroundChild Life Specialists

At UF Health Shands Children's Hospital:

  • 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 support and distraction for patients during medical procedures
  • Provide non-threatening, age-appropriate explanations and preparations
  • 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

Child Life Specialists hold a bachelor or masters level degree in child development, therapeutic recreation, or a related field field.  They have passed a national certification exam and completed a 480 hour internship. 

For more information about Child Life please visit:

Contact Us


1600 SW Archer Rd.
Box 100335
Gainesville, FL 32610


(352) 594-6470