Child Life Program

MSCHONY’s Child Life program originated in 1929 and is one of the oldest and most respected programs in the country. The Child Life staff consists of accredited professionals who apply their child development expertise to help children understand, cope with, and master their medical experiences. Child life specialists recognize a child's reactions to the stresses of illness and medical procedures, allowing them to assess a child and family’s psychosocial needs, and provide appropriate individualized interventions. These interventions include, but are not limited to, preparations for tests and procedures, coping strategies, and diversion during procedures, as well as play activities that help to normalize the environment. In addition, the child life department has a Music Therapist and an Art Therapist to provide music and art as a means for children to express their emotions and cope with their hospitalization. Pediatric Cardiac Surgery/Cardiology has a child life specialist, Alison Heffer, assigned specifically to help this patient population and their families.

The Child Life profession has been recognized by the American Academy of Physicians in the following policy statement:

Child life services make a difference in pediatric care. Although more research is needed, there is some evidence that child life services may help to contain costs by reducing hospital length of stay and decreasing the need for analgesics. Observation and consumer satisfaction feedback further confirm the positive effects of child life programs on children, families, and staff. It remains essential for child life specialists to adapt and grow with the changing health care system in support of the emotional well-being of children and families. (American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Hospital Care. Child Life Services. Pediatrics Vol. 118 No. 4 October 2006, pp. 1757-1763 (doi:10.1542/peds.2006-1941)

Also, Evidence Based Practice Statements have been written for the following child life services:

  • Child Life Assessment
  • Therapeutic Play in Pediatric Health Care
  • Preparing Children and Adolescents for Medical Procedures

If you would like to request child life services, please use the following contact information:

  • Pre-operative tour/information (please note: tours require a pre-scheduled appointment): 212-342-0688
  • Child Life Specialist for Cardiology (Alison Heffer): 212-342-8577
  • Child Life Director (Toni Millar): 212-342-8579