Child Life Department


Being in the hospital is rarely fun, especially for young children. Illness, treatments, long days and time away from family and friends can lead to feelings of fear, isolation, confusion and anger. The talented team of Child Life Specialists at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital is dedicated to the psychosocial, developmental, emotional and educational needs of our patients and their families through a variety of advocacy and support services.


Child Life Specialists are the voice for children while they are in the hospital. They communicate patients’ individual needs to the entire care team while also honoring family wishes.

Sibling Support

A child being in the hospital can be unexpected, traumatic and sometimes frightening for their siblings. In addition to providing psychosocial support to children in the hospital, our Child Life Specialists also help siblings of all ages understand and cope with everything that is happening around them.

Bereavement Support

Child Life Specialists provide support to siblings and family members facing a loss, helping them begin the grieving process in a positive way.

Procedural Support

Child Life Specialists help decrease stress and anxiety by providing age-appropriate education before procedures using visual aids, dolls and realistic medical play equipment. These tools help our team provide emotional support and teach relaxation techniques to help children cope with difficult experiences.


Medical Play

Medical play is a technique that encourages children to express fears, discuss misconceptions and gain a sense of control over what is happening to their bodies. Using lifelike dolls and equipment, our Child Life Specialists help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that patients may experience.

Therapeutic Play Opportunities

Play is an important part of the healing process at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. Our Child Life Specialists provide numerous opportunities for children to gain a sense of control over their hospital experience through play. These interventions facilitate self-expression, learning, continued growth and development.

Playrooms are available on each inpatient unit and offer age-appropriate toys, games, art supplies, books, movies and music to aid in coping and to give children the opportunity for peer interaction and group activities, such as Music Therapy sessions.

How Your Support Will Help

Because Child Life services are not covered by insurance, we rely on the generosity of our sponsors and friends to make this program a reality. By supporting Child Life, you are helping us make a difference in the lives of children in the following ways:

  • Staffing Resources. The popularity of Child Life, in addition to the numerous benefits that it provides, has produced a demand that far exceeds what our current staff can handle. Additional staff will allow for the expansion of Child Life services into more areas of the hospital and for longer hours, such as busy weekends in the Emergency Department, enabling us to serve more children.
  • Staff Education. Donor support enables our staff to attend annual conferences and other educational opportunities to gain additional certifications, network with other Child Life Specialists and stay informed about changes in the field.
  • Toys, Games and Supplies. No matter how long a child is in the hospital, Child Life strives to provide a supportive and “normal” environment. Your support enables Child Life to provide birthday parties, interactive games, sensory items for children with special needs, as well as play opportunities with other children when appropriate. Click HERE to see how to help.
Child Life Specialist with Cardinal Glennon patient in The Costas Center