1. The child life program encompasses a variety of modalities (including therapeutic play and psychologic preparation) in order to address the psychosocial concerns of children during hospitalization.
2. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that child life services be provided as part of a patient- and family-centered model of care and that it be included in hospitals’ operating budgets as an essential component of pediatric care.
Statement Rundown: The child life program was created in 1955 to address the psychosocial concerns of children and their family members and to facilitate coping during hospitalizations and other healthcare experiences. Child life services use a variety of modalities that include therapeutic play and psychologic preparation to collaborate with children and their family members during potentially stressful health care experiences. Goals of the child life program are to promote optimal development, provide education about health conditions, prepare children for medical procedures, rehearse coping and pain management strategies, help children work through feelings, and establish therapeutic relationships with the child and family members. Child life programs have been shown to result in less emotional distress, better overall coping during hospitalization, a better understanding of procedures, and a more positive physical recovery (e.g. less time on narcotics, decreased length of stay, and higher parent satisfaction). Services are provided by certified child life specialists (CCLS), who are integral members of the interdisciplinary patient care team. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) therefore recommends that child life services be provided as part of an integrated patient- and family-centered model of care, be individualized to address specific patient needs, and be included in hospitals’ operating budgets as an essential component of pediatric care.
Relevant Reading: Child Life Council Evidence-Based Practice Statement
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