child life specialist with two female child patient

Child Life Specialists

Child life specialists play a special role in children’s health care. Mercy Children’s Hospital & Clinics provides a certified staff of specialists trained to help children and their families understand and manage challenging life events and stressful health care experiences. Difficult or unexpected experiences, such as chronic illness, hospitalization, the death of a loved one or the aftermath of a traumatic event can be upsetting for anyone, especially children.

Child life specialists work with family members and health care staff to focus on the needs of children. Their roles can include:

  • Easing a child’s fear and anxiety with therapeutic and recreational activities
  • Explaining tests, surgeries and other procedures to a child ahead of time
  • Engaging children and families in special events, entertainment and activities
  • Considering the needs of siblings or other children who may also be affected by a child’s illness or trauma
  • Directing pre-admission hospital tours and resources, and consultations with outpatient families
  • Supporting families confronting grief and bereavement issues
  • Providing education and resources for parents and members of the team

Mercy’s Child Life Specialists provide services to the Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICU), Medical Imaging, Children’s Emergency Center and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Donating to Mercy's Child Life Program

The department receives many requests about donations of items for children. Because there are specific guidelines on what can be accepted, please refer to the Child Life Specialists Wish List for a list of items that can be donated.

Please contact Child Life at 515-240-0320 or mercychildlife@mercydesmoines.org with any questions!

(515) 247-3121
1111 6th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50314

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