Play and creativity meet caring and support
Being sick can be tough on kids and family alike. That's why we've developed services focused on a child's development and well-being – minimizing the potential stress of treatment and maximizing the fun and play of being a kid.
Play our weekly bingo game from your bed for cool prizes.
At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, child life specialists and creative arts therapists strive to create positive health care experiences for children, youths and families.
Families often have questions about how to make sure their kids feel ready for a procedure or a stay in the hospital. The mission of our Child Life Services department is to help children and other family members prepare for and cope with these experiences. Our team of certified child life specialists, music therapists, art therapists, educators and parent liaisons are trained in child and family development, and understand the specific needs of children, teens and families in the hospital. Through support, play and education, we collaborate with parents and other caregivers to ensure a friendly and comfortable medical environment for each child.
We provide a range of services to meet the individual needs of each family, including:
- Support, education and developmental guidance for parents and other caregivers
- Preparing children for medical procedures, using age-specific teaching tools, such as dolls, pictures and medical equipment
- Support for children and their families during medical procedures, using techniques such as imagery and distraction to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation
- Therapeutic play before, during or after medical experiences
- Opportunities to be creative, socialize and learn for children of all ages, including infants and teens
747 52nd St.
Oakland, CA 94609
1975 Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA 94158
2401 Shadelands Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Meet our team
Child life specialists
Child life specialists are educated and trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury on pediatric patients. They use developmentally appropriate therapeutic techniques as well as play sessions to help children adjust to and understand their health care experiences.
Music therapists focus on recovery, building resilience, supporting normal development, and improving each patient’s mood and emotional state. Music therapy creates a space for kids to be kids – to express all the wonder, creativity and inspiration they have to share with the world.
Tender wagging care.
Our therapy dogs spread joy and smiles at the bedside and throughout the hospital.
Art therapists are mental health professionals trained in both art and psychology. They work with children as well as adults, using various art forms for assessment and treatment.
Staffed by media specialists, creative arts therapists and child life specialists, Kaleidoscope Studios offers kids opportunities to participate in video and music production, digital arts and live TV shows.
Our teachers are credentialed by the California Department of Education. They work with kids in the classroom or at the bedside, creating independent study projects that meet state standards of education and coordinating with each child's school to make sure class requirements are met during the hospital stay.
These specially trained parents of previously hospitalized children are hired to provide peer support to parents.
Infant development specialists
Infant development specialists understand the potential impact of illness, injury and hospitalization on early child development and infant-parent attachment. At our Oakland hospital, these professionals are specially trained to support a baby's development during hospitalization and beyond.
Support Child Life Services
Our team relies on your support to provide these services. From individual gifts to company sponsorships and volunteering, our community's generosity is what enables us to meet the developmental and emotional needs of every child in our care.
Learn more about how to sustain and strengthen Child Life Services through our donation program.
If you'd like to contribute in a hands-on way, consider applying to be a volunteer at our hospitals. If you're a student, you can help care for our patients and learn professional skills by completing a Child Life internship or practicum.
To ask questions or learn more about supporting us, please email [email protected].
Ways to help – San Francisco
Make a donation
Support the work of Child Life Services with a monetary gift.
Support the facility dog program
With your help, our facility dog can continue to comfort patients and their families.
Support creative arts therapy (CAT)
Help our therapists get supplies to bring out our patients' creative side.
Learn more about our other needs.
Partnerships with families
Family Advisory Councils
Families on the council partner with doctors and other staff members to advise us on topics such as hospital policies, designing a healing environment, treatment experiences from a parent's perspective, and more. Family members represent various fields of care and types of hospital admissions.
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals have adopted a number of precautions designed to keep patients, families and hospital staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Child Life Services, we've modified some features of what we provide, while maintaining our focus on the developmental and emotional needs of children in our care.
We've significantly increased our broadcast programming, which includes interactive, educational and entertainment offerings for a wide age range, including adults. Single-use activities and toys are also available. While many of our play and activity spaces are closed, our child life specialists offer personalized care in other ways, such as through in-person visits while wearing protective equipment; from the doorway of a child’s hospital or treatment room; and remotely via phone, video conferencing or broadcast shows.
We're committed to working with parents and families to provide individualized care for each family while maintaining safety for everyone.