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Child Life Program

The hospital environment can be frightening for children. The UC Irvine Health Child Life Program is designed to make a youngster’s hospital experience a positive one.

If you are interested in becoming a Child Life volunteer, visit the Child Life Volunteer Program ›

Child life specialists assist all pediatric patients, including neonatology (NICU) patients as well as children of adult patients. Children are shown coping skills and given support and information about the healthcare setting in developmentally appropriate language. They also are given ample therapeutic play opportunities. If you are interested in becoming a NICU cuddler, visit the Cuddler Volunteer Program ›

There is no charge to receive Child Life services.

Our specialists provide:

  • Education for patients and families about the healthcare setting, medical equipment, injuries and illness
  • Emotional support
  • Preparation for patients through education and therapeutic play sessions
  • Pre-surgical tour, as requested and needed
  • Assistance to develop positive coping skills
  • Support to patients during potentially difficult procedures
  • Education and support to pediatric patients, siblings and to children of adult patients
  • Referrals to community resources for ongoing support after discharge
  • Bereavement support services for patients and their families
  • Coordination with parent and school for continuity of education
  • Education for patients' classmates about their illness or injury for reintegration into the classroom

Learn more about preparing your child for surgery ›

Our services

We offer a variety of services, from helping pediatric patients become less fearful of the hospital environment to providing families with grief support.

These include:


Our Child Life volunteers interact with all pediatric patients, either in the playroom or at the bedside, providing developmentally appropriate support and stimulation.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Child Life, visit Child Life Volunteer Program ›

New Sibling Class

This class is for preschool and elementary school-aged children who are about to become big brothers and big sisters. Children learn what to expect when mom goes to the hospital to give birth, how they can help around the house and how they can help with their new brother or sister after mom comes home. The class is held quarterly at UC Irvine Medical Center.

To register, call 877-UCI-DOCS (877-824-3627).