Child Life

Child Life

(757) 668-7327

Being sick or hospitalized is difficult for children. In addition to the physical discomfort of illness, they may feel frightened, confused and overwhelmed. In essence, kids need more than medicine to get well. At CHKD, we understand that.

What is a child life specialist?

Our child life specialists work with patients and families to help children feel more comfortable and more in control of their hospital stay.

Child life specialists help reduce the patients' and families' anxiety and adjust to the hospital experience. Through the use of age-appropriate interventions, they help children understand their illnesses and medical procedures and develop positive coping skills.

Child life assistants encourage play for patients as they learn about their world and how to cope with new experiences. Through play, children can express their feelings and gain a sense of control.

Services We Provide

  • Family support to help adjust to the hospital
  • Medical play to become more familiar with the medical equipment and procedures, and encourage expression of feelings
  • Sibling visits to help brothers and sisters understand why their sibling is in the hospital
  • Coordination of special celebrations such as birthdays and holidays
  • Activities to help bridge the gap between home and the hospital
  • Psychological preparation and pre-operation tours to help patients and siblings understand and cope with healthcare experiences
  • Emotional support and coping techniques, such as guided imagery, deep breathing and diversion
  • Activity room and bedside programming to promote normalization to the hospital experience, peer interaction and independence.

Connecting with the Community

Child life has another important role as liaisons between groups in our community and our patients. They coordinate celebrity and community-group visits and accept new gifts of appropriate toys, craft supplies and new video games. If you are interested in scheduling a visit to CHKD, please read the CHKD Community Group Request informational packet. For security purposes, all visit requests must be made a month in advance.

To make a donation, view our wish list, or learn more about community group opportunities, visit donating to child life.

For individuals interested in becoming a hospital volunteer, call volunteer services at (757) 668-7195 or visit volunteer opportunities for information on becoming a child life volunteer.


(757) 668-7327

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between child life community groups and volunteer services?

Volunteer services are individual volunteers that come on a weekly basis. Child life community group visits are groups affiliated with a business, club or organization.


What if I have gently used items that I want to donate?

Due to health and medical conditions, all donations must be brand new. If you wish to donate any used items, please contact a CHKD Thrift Store. All proceeds donated will still benefit the hospital.


Do you have a wish list of items needed for the patients?

Because patient's needs are constantly changing, we encourage monetary donations. All  monetary donations to the child life department are utilized to purchase much needed items for the patients. Please see our wishlist to donate items.


My organization wants to do something for the children. Do you have any suggestions?

Another way to help the children is to make pre-individually packaged arts and crafts items such as wood crafts for painting, suncatchers with suction cups, foam art items, other items to decorate such as canvas bags, pillow cases, ceramics, picture frames, etc. 


Where do we drop off our donations?

As long as your donations follow all of our  guidelines, you may drop them off at the front information desk in the main hospital in downtown Norfolk.

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