Child life

Certified child life specialists at Studer Family Children’s Hospital provide psychosocial and emotional support for your child while they are receiving care.

Child playing with a certified child life specialist at Studer Family Children’s Hospital in Pensacola, Florida.

Child life services at Studer Family Children’s Hospital

Certified child life specialists at Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart  are experienced in helping children and families cope with stress and other challenges while they are receiving care in the hospital. Our team meets with your child and family and works with you to determine the right plan for support. And we work with doctors and care teams caring for patients in other pediatric specialties, including the NICU, PICU, ER, surgery, neurology, cardiology, blood and cancer, and more. When your child is feeling anxious about tests or procedures, our child life specialists can provide positive distractions to help calm your child. Our goal is to help make being at the hospital a more positive experience for children and families.

Child life services

Care teams at Studer Family Children’s Hospital understand that illnesses and injuries can be stressful and overwhelming for children and their families. That’s why certified child life specialists work with your child and family on a care plan to help in coping with the healthcare experience. Child life services can include:

  • Diagnosis education

    Our specialists have expertise working with children in a healthcare setting. Using developmentally appropriate language, we can help explain your child's diagnosis, tests and treatments in a way they understand. We also take the time to listen to your child’s concerns and encourage them to ask questions. Helping your child understand what to expect can help ease anxious feelings.

  • Preparation and support during procedures

    Child life specialists help prepare your child for procedures using digital preparation books, pictures, actual medical equipment and other tools to help children understand what to expect before their test, procedure or surgery. We walk them step-by-step through what they will experience in a way they can understand.

    During certain procedures, child life specialists may be there to support your child using coping and relaxation skills, alternative focus items and positive distraction techniques.

  • Therapeutic play

    Therapeutic play can be used to help improve the emotional well-being of children in the hospital by using art, music, and toys as expressive activities. This type of play encourages children to express and process their thoughts and feelings about medical experiences in a fun and safe way.

  • Animal-assisted therapy

    Our facility dog program, Sacred Paws, uses therapy dogs to offer a positive distraction from the hospital environment. All of our dogs and their handlers have specialized training through Canine Assistants.

Additional information and resources

Special events

We welcome the support of our community. Please call 850-416-2657 to learn how your group can host a special event with the child life department.


You can help children in the hospital by making a monetary donation or a donation of new toys, games and other supplies. Please review our donation guidelines and wish list, or call 850-416-2657 for more information. Donations may be mailed to:

Studer Family Children’s Hospital
Attn: Child Life Department
1 Bubba Watson Drive
Pensacola, FL 32504

Child life