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Child Life Program

The Child Life Program and staff provide recreational and therapeutic activities in the Child Life Center or at the bedside, giving children the opportunity for socialization and a way to process and express their feelings about the hospital experience. Medical play is a therapeutic activity where children can explore play on real medical equipment. By observing this type of play, we can learn about children's perceptions of their health care and we can help clear up misconceptions.

The Child Life Center

The Child Life Center (also known as the playroom) is where you will find toys, games, puzzles, arts and crafts, and movies. No medical procedures can take place in the playroom, which creates a safe environment where children can be free of medical intrusions. The playroom is open to children of all ages and supervised by Child Life staff or volunteers. Brothers and sisters are welcome if an adult comes along. Toys can be borrowed to take back to the room.

Child Life Specialists

Our Child Life Specialists can help you and your child prepare for a new procedure or review a familiar one. We describe the process in ways your child can understand. We explain what the procedure will be like for your child. We are available to go with patients to treatment rooms and tests in any area of the hospital. Having your child ask questions during this preparation can help him or her feel more at ease. If we aren't able to prepare your child before the procedure, we can review it afterwards to help your child understand what has happened.To learn more about Child Life Specialist, listen to our Podcast: What is a Child Life Specialist? If you are interested in having a Child Life Specialist prepare your child for a procedure, please call the Child Life Office at (207) 662-6267.

Our Child Life Specialists hold a minimum of a bachelor's level degree in Child Life or a related field. Each has completed at least a 480-hour internship and is certified. Their role is to:

  • Provide diversional and developmental play opportunities. Planned activities, ranging from arts and crafts to toys and games, are conducted throughout the day in the Child Life Center and at the bedside for children who cannot leave their rooms.

  • Normalize the hospital environment. We try to make the hospital as much like home as possible by having toys, games, and activities that they are familiar with at home and at school. We celebrate holidays with a party, special visiting guests, or other appropriate activities.

  • Help patients to express their feelings throughout their hospital stay. The Child Life Specialists can engage children in therapeutic play to help them cope with the negative feelings generated by unpleasant medical events and hospitalization. Therapeutic play may include medical play, expressive art, or a creative writing activity.

  • Introduce patients and families to relaxation/distraction techniques before a procedure. After teaching techniques and practicing with the patient, we can accompany them during procedures if the parent is not present or if the child requests it.

Visit & View Program

This program provides children and families with much needed information before the day of surgery. Our goal is to take the worry out of coming to the hospital for children and families. During this one hour program, you will receive age-appropriate information on what will be happening on the day of surgery, feel and touch medical equipment and, be able to ask questions.

It can make the difference between a smile and a frown on the big day. The Visit & View Program is offered on Tuesdays from 6:00PM -7:00PM. To register call the Child Life Program at (207) 662-6267. You can also read "Your Operation Book" with your child to help prepare for an upcoming surgery.

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The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital is a department of Maine Medical Center