Needing medical care can be frightening for anyone, and especially so for children. That's why the Child Life Program, including our Facility Dog Program, is an important part of each child's hospital experience at Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento.
Child Life Specialists work with your child and family to make time spent in the hospital as normal as possible and to minimize emotional trauma. As a member of the care team, your Child Life Specialist supports you and your child during a hospital stay, surgery or a visit to the pediatric emergency department.
Our Child Life Specialists have undergraduate and graduate degrees in child growth and development, specifically focusing on how hospitalization affects children. They go through an extensive certification process through the Association of Child Life Professionals. They offer:
- Professional assessment of your child’s adjustment and reaction to a medical situation.
- Communication of patient's needs, coping styles and care plans to staff and family members.
- Age-appropriate explanation of medical procedures and terms so that children of all ages understand what is happening and why.
- Therapeutic play to help your child express feelings associated with hospitalization.
- Age-appropriate instruction on coping techniques to help your child through care that may be uncomfortable or scary.
- Emotional support for families, including including facilitation of sibling visits.
- Assistance with homework and coordination with your child’s school.
- Activities and games that let your child feel mastery over a situation and more in control over his or her hospital experience.
- Child-appropriate entertainment and special events for families in the hospital.
- Special programs, including art and music therapy, playrooms for children and teens, pediatric surgery tours and school programs for hospitalized children.
Support for Siblings and Families
In addition to the many services for pediatric patients, Sutter hospitals also provide programs for siblings and families. These include:
- NICU child life services for parents. This service includes teaching parents how to provide developmentally appropriate stimulation for their pre-term infant.
- NICU child life services for siblings. Parents can schedule a “Sib Session” with a NICU child life specialist, who utilizes medical play, real hospital equipment and pictures to prepare children for the experience of visiting their newborn brother or sister in the NICU.
Facility Dog Program
Our trained canine companions brighten the day of children staying at Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento. Our Child Life Program added the Facility Dog Program in 2003 as a way to help ease the minds and fears of hospitalized children.
Our program dogs, who have their own photo identification badges, are graduates of Canine Companions for Independence and have trained specifically to bring joy and comfort to our youngest patients.
Child Life Internship Program
Find out how to become an intern in the Child Life Internship Program.
Child Life Program Donations
Help children like Noah, a 5 year-old cystic fibrosis patient who endured a tough covid battle, by donating to the Child Life Program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.