Child Life Program

Child Life Program at Mount Sinai South Nassau

The Child Life Program at Mount Sinai South Nassau was created to help children learn to successfully deal with medical diagnosis and experiences. Through play, education, psychological preparation and creative arts therapies, children are provided with a variety of opportunities to help them adjust to illness and medical encounters.

Our staff are certified and licensed professionals, who are an integral part of your child’s interdisciplinary team. They are trained experts in child development, psychology, education, art therapy, music therapy, and related fields. They use their knowledge to meet each child and families’ unique needs.

We offer a variety of therapeutic modalities to help your child process and cope with their medical encounters. Play, music, art and preparation help to support each individual child’s developmental needs. Therapists utilize their knowledge of various creative expressions and child development to help create an environment conducive to healing the whole child.

Special events and donations are used to help create a sense of normalcy for hospitalized children and families. These experiences allow for celebrations of developmental milestones, as wells cultural and religious celebrations. If you are in interested in learning more about our special events or in making a monetary or in-kind donation, please contact us at: 516-632-4779.

What do child life specialists do?

  • Assess and normalize adjustment to the hospital experience
  • Collaborate with patient, parents, caregivers, siblings, and staff about the impact of illness
  • Enhance understanding of medical procedures and environments through developmentally appropriate preparation and education, and post procedural medical play
  • Teach developmentally appropriate coping skills, non-pharmacological pain management skills and relaxation techniques  
  • Offer creative art therapies and therapeutic play experiences to foster expression of feelings and increase cooperation
  • Provide diversional and recreational activities at bedside, in activity rooms and in waiting rooms
  • Organize engaging and appropriate special events
  • Advocate for children and families
  • Help siblings understand what is happening

Importance of Family Centered Care

We value families and partner with them to provide the most optimal environment for receiving health care. We consider parents experts on their child’s needs and partner with you during your child’s care. Please speak up and let us know the best way we can interact with and support your child. We recognize the importance of staying connected to siblings, extended family members, classmates, and friends. Our staff are available to help to maintain those relationships.

The Value of Play

Play is a developmentally appropriate form of learning and coping in children. Children us play to help themselves play out experience and gain a sense of control over them. Child life specialists use various forms of play to:

  • Evaluate and help meet your child’s developmental needs and milestones
  • Increase their understanding of medical environment
  • Rehearse medical procedures to minimize their fear and practice coping techniques
  • Foster positive family interactions
  • Allow for emotional expressions in a safe manner
  • Work through traumatic medical experiences

Preparing for your hospital stay

  • Use honest, simple language your child can understand
  • Have them help you pack their bag with some of their favorite comfort items, a teddy bear, blanket, story book, toy, music, sippy cup, etc.
  • Reassure your child that you will stay with them while they are in the hospital
  • Know that it is expected that your child or you will ask questions, so please ask
  • Be sure to pack comfortable clothing for yourself and any personal items you may need

Children with Special Needs

We have various resources and tools available to help meet the individual needs of our young patients. Our “Louie” Vecta Sensory Cart is available to pediatric patients that would like help in creating a calm environment to receive their care. It is filled with resources such as social stories, noise cancelling headphones, sensory toys, and weighted blankets. Please let us know if this is something that you would like for your child.

To reach a child life specialist or to learn more about our Child Life services please contact our child life program at: 516-632-4779 or email us at: childlife@snch.org

To learn more about the child life profession, please visit: https://www.childlife.org

Supporting our child life program

Our child life program is reliant upon our hospitals administration and our community for our success. You can help us in any of the following ways:

  • Donate: Any monetary gift supports the needs of our patients, their families, and our child life program. You can make your donation to the Child Life Program by clicking the link below and choose “other" under the “Please allocate my gift to:”, then type in Child Life Program.
  • You can also donate an item or items from our Amazon wish list.
  • Volunteer: Child life volunteers are invaluable to us. They help maintain our playroom, offer play activities to our patients at both their bedside and in our playroom. To learn more about volunteering in the child life program please visit here.

Toy Donation Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in donating toys to the pediatric patients at Mount Sinai South Nassau. Our Child Life Program relies solely on the generosity of our community to help brighten the lives of our ill and injured children. To support the patient’s emotional, social and physical development, please abide by the following guidelines:

  • All toys MUST BE NEW and in original packaging for infection control standards. If you have gently used toys, local shelters and churches are often in need of such items.
  • Small to medium stuffed animals, that are new with their tags on are acceptable
  • Please avoid toys with small loose parts
  • All craft materials must be nontoxic
  • Toys that contain Latex, used toys, toys with a violent theme or food items will not be accepted
  • Toys must not be gift wrapped, to ensure the toy is developmentally appropriate for the child receiving it
  • Due to patients’ privacy, safety and infection control, donors are not permitted to give gifts directly to patients
  • If the items don’t fall within our guidelines or are unsafe/inappropriate for our patients, Mount Sinai South Nassau reserves the right to politely decline the donation

What We Can Accept:

  • New board books, toys, games, puzzles, journals, and non-toxic art materials in original packaging
  • Gift cards
  • New clothing with tags on
  • I-Pads
  • X-box 360 games (Rated E-T)
  • X-box 360 wireless controllers
  • I-pods/MP3 Players
  • PS 4 games (Rated E-T)
  • DVD’s Rated G, PG, and PG-13

What We Cannot Accept:

  • Toy weapons, plastic guns, character swords, nerf guns etc.
  • No oversized toys, i.e.: large toy trucks, skateboards, large stuffed animals, rollerblades, etc.
  • VHS tapes
  • Glass or brittle plastic toys which can easily break and leave sharp edges
  • Flowers, edible gifts, and holiday treats

How Do I Make or Send A Delivery?

Delivering your donation:

  • In person:
    • Please call the Child Life Office to schedule a time for your delivery. We are available Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm.
    • You will be able to temporarily park in front of the hospital’s entrance
    • All donations will be accepted in the main lobby
    • Please complete a donation form
    • Photos of the delivery are permitted, with a signed consent form required for any child under age 18
  • By mail (Please mail your donation to):
    • Mount Sinai South Nassau
      Child Life Program, Pediatrics
      2nd floor B2
      One Healthy Way
      Oceanside, NY 11572
  • Unfortunately, we are unable to pick up any donated items.

The Child Life Program at Mount Sinai South Nassau appreciates your generosity in helping brighten the lives of our patients. Please contact Child Life Services at Child.Life@snch.org to schedule an appointment to drop off donations.

Our Child Life Internship

All applicants will need an affiliation agreement between their school and our hospital. We offer a full-time 600-hour unpaid child life internship over 15 weeks during the fall and winter/spring semesters, utilizing the Association of Child Life Professionals Child Life Clinical Internship Curriculum.

Interns will gain experience in areas that include: the pediatric inpatient floor, pediatric emergency unit, and the NICU. When available, interns may have the opportunity to support the needs of children of adult patients, support the psychosocial and developmental needs of pediatric patients cared for in our out-patient areas, participate in Teddy Bear Clinics, and community Health Fairs. Interns are expected to complete weekly readings, keep a weekly journal, have weekly supervision, complete a procedural support passport, and do a gap in service project.

If you are interested in applying for either semester, please know that we abide by The Association of Child Life Professions deadlines and use their common application when considering interns for placement. In addition, we require:

  • 100 hours of volunteer experience with pediatric patients under the supervision of a child life specialist
  • Three letters of recommendations emailed to us at: childlife@snch.org
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Completion of coursework required by the ACLP

Questions and completed applications can be electronically submitted by email to: childlife@snch.org

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