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Child Life

The Child Life Department works with children, teens and their families to ensure that each child's developmental and emotional needs are met while at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Our child life specialists help children and families adjust to and understand illness and treatment, while our credentialed teachers provide instruction to school-age children in our school room or at bedside.

Some of our services for patients include:

  • Prepare patients for medical procedures, using age-specific teaching tools such as models, dolls, medical equipment and pictures
  • Provide support during medical procedures
  • Help children develop strategies such as imagery, distraction and relaxation to reduce anxiety
  • School program for hospitalized children and their siblings
  • School program for children in the outpatient Dialysis Unit
  • Activity rooms for kids and teens
  • Individual playtime for immune-compromised kids or kids with seizure-monitoring equipment
  • Therapeutic bedside play
  • Art Therapy
  • Book buddies
  • Canine companion
  • Clowning Program
  • Cuddling for babies
  • Hospital orientation tours
  • Visits from community groups and celebrities
  • Music and animal programs
  • Other age-appropriate activities

Services for Families

Sibling support — We provide emotional support for brothers and sisters of hospitalized children, encouraging them to express their feelings and helping them understand the hospital environment. Siblings are welcome after receiving a health clearance and sticker from a nurse.

Family Resource Room — This room provides families with a library of information and resources about health, illness and coping with hospitalization. The room features a fax machine, computers with Internet access, phone jacks for laptops, phones and a copier. Coffee and tea are served daily.

In addition, parents can join our Making Memories scrap book support group, learn how to perform infant massage, get a 10-minute chair massage or learn how to knit in our In Stitches knitting group. If you're interested in any of these activities, visit the Family Resource Room on the sixth floor, room L-603, for more information.

Activity Rooms for Kids

All Stars Technology Room — This room provides kids and teens with supervised access to video games and the Internet.

Playroom — The playroom has toys, arts and crafts and more for children.

Teen Lounge — For patients and their siblings age 13 and up, the Teen Lounge offers a place for teens to listen to music, play video games and socialize with other teens.

Our Staff

Child life staff assist both outpatients and hospitalized inpatients. Our staff is mainly composed of:

Child Life Specialists — Child life specialists are trained in working with children and adolescents in medical settings. They are professionally certified and educated at the graduate level in child development.

School Teachers — Our school teachers are credentialed by the California Department of Education, and work with children in the classroom or at the bedside. They create independent study projects that meet California standards of education, and coordinate with each child's school to ensure class requirements are met while the child is in the hospital.

Volunteers — Volunteers, who are trained by Child Life staff, help supervise play spaces and spend time with children when parents take a break. Whether playing a board game, reading a book aloud or holding a baby, our volunteers help kids feel like kids. Parents or staff can request a volunteer through Child Life. See more information about our volunteer program.

How to Help

Services provided by Child Life are made possible primarily through donations. If you're interested in supporting Child Life, please contact:

Child Life Department
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
505 Parnassus Ave., L171, Box 0210
San Francisco, CA 94143

Phone (415) 353-1203

If you're interested in volunteering, please visit Volunteer Services There are several different types of volunteer positions to choose from in the Child Life department.

For students interested in the field, we offer a Child Life internship and practicum.

Related Information

Ways to Give

How to Reach Us

Child Life
Phone (415) 353-1203

See our online bookstore for books written or recommended by our hospital staff.