Minimizing the anxiety your child may have about treatments, tests or hospitalization can make things better for everyone in your family. At Riley at IU Health, our Child Life Program uses many therapeutic interventions to serve your child’s social, emotional and educational needs.
Why Play Matters
We believe in the importance of play, and we strive to provide your child with opportunities to keep them moving toward developmental milestones and practicing emotional expression through play.
Our Child Life Program promotes:
- Continued growth
- Diversion and distraction
- Freedom of choice
Children learn socialization, communication and coping skills through play and interventions facilitated by knowledgeable, understanding specialists who care about their needs.
Child Life Staff
Child Life specialists are certified professionals with advanced education in child life, child health, child development and/or related fields. We work closely with all healthcare providers at Riley at IU Health to serve your child’s needs, including:
- Medical play/preparation. We help children learn about their upcoming procedure and correct any misconceptions they may have. Using play and developmentally appropriate learning tools, we can help children prepare for a procedure step-by-step.
- Procedural support. We help children and families practice coping skills during a procedure. Using various distraction techniques, Child Life specialists divert your child's attention from pain and lessen their anxiety. Each child has a unique set of preferences, from music and books to bubbles or toys.
- Psychosocial and emotional support. We help children and families understand and express their feelings about the challenges of hospitalization and/or treatment.
- Developmentally appropriate activities. We encourage creative expression and promote a sense of accomplishment by providing activities based on age, ability, interest and needs.
Child Life specialists work with children throughout the hospital, including inpatient units, outpatient clinics, day surgery, radiology and Emergency Medicine.
Child Life Zone
The Child Life Zone is an area inside Riley at IU Health where patients and their families can play, learn, laugh and relax. Built through support from Teammates for Kids Foundation, our Child Life Zone is one of the nation’s largest hospital playrooms.
Families can use the Child Life Zone from 10 am to 7:30 pm, Monday through Friday and from 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday. Participate in activities scheduled daily or watch live broadcast events on Channel 5 of your child’s TV (when available). Our schedule is always posted outside the Child Life Zone.
Riley at IU Health encourages your family to explore the Child Life Zone, which offers the following family-friendly features:
- Take a lap around our speedway, cross our yard of bricks or admire the racing team displays throughout our racing-themed highlights.
- Visit the GREEN room, a multipurpose space where children can G-Grow, R-Relax, E-Energize, E-Explore and be N-Nurtured, always accompanied by a member of the Riley at IU Health staff.
- Develop your creative side in the Craft Kitchen, where you can bake, paint and make memories with visiting artists or local culinary guests.
- Explore medical play with a Certified Child Life Specialist inside our customized ambulance. This area also has an infant/toddler play area filled with toys, games and a large active play area that has tables for hockey, foosball and pool.
- View live performances by special guests and Riley Kids on our closed circuit TV channel, KIDS-TV5, broadcast from Roxy’s Recording Studio.
- A Microsoft Video Game wall features the latest Xbox games, playable for 20 minutes at a time or longer when no one else is waiting to play.
- Play in the Child Life Zone Backyard! Enjoy fresh air and a variety of outdoor activities including music instruments, a Playhouse, and miniature golf! The Child Life Zone Backyard is open during Child Life Zone hours weather and staffing permitted.
We welcome all inpatients and outpatients accompanied by an adult. Outpatients and guests must complete a health screen before entering. Inpatients need a pass from their nurse. Staff can explain guidelines for using the Child Life Zone.
When a child is hospitalized or receiving treatments, family entertainment often takes a backseat to healing and recovery. Your child may not be able to attend a ballgame or visit a museum, but we can often bring these things to Riley at IU Health.
Throughout the year, the activity rooms on each unit and in the Child Life Zone are filled with special events for patients and families. These events are made possible through the generosity of sports and entertainment celebrities, community outreach organizations, museums and corporations. Inpatients and outpatients visiting Riley at IU Health on the day of an event are welcome to attend.
We encourage children to participate in special events, which can enhance their healing process and relieve stress for everyone in the family. Each event begins with freedom of choice: do you want to participate and what do you want to do once you are there?
These events are organized for your child’s entertainment and your child can choose to opt in or out, depending on his/her preference. Even the simplest choices may help your child feel more in charge at a time when life may feel beyond their control.
Child Life Internship
Our Child Life Internship experience is a 16-week program requiring at least 40 clinical hours per week. The internship provides high-quality instruction and preparation for emerging child life professionals. We accept students who will be enrolled in a college or university at the time of the internship placement and if accepted as an intern, will require a formal affiliation agreement with your university. Learn more about our Educational Affiliation Agreement. We are unable to accept independent students.
Riley at IU Health offers Spring and Fall Internships following the standards and dates set forth by the Association for Child Life Professionals. Candidates who wish to apply for a Child Life internship at Riley at IU Health should complete this Internship Checklist.
If you would like to learn more about the Child Life Specialist profession and the role of Child Life at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, you are invited to attend the Child Life 101 Information Session. Each session will include a presentation about Child Life, information about volunteers/interns, a hands-on demonstration, and a tour of the facility. You will meet with several members of the Riley Child Life at IU Health staff. Please note, we do not offer job shadow opportunities. This course is not required to become a Child Life department volunteer.
Each session will be the same, so attendees will only need to choose one date. Dates are subject to change.
2020 Child Life 101 Sessions are cancelled. Updates will be posted for 2021 options in the Spring 2021.
Riley at IU Health North Child Life Practicum
At this time, the practicum program will NOT be open. Updates will be posted when this program returns.
Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health
705 Riley Hospital Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health North Hospital
17000 N. Meridian Street
Carmel, IN 46032
Refer a Patient
Physicians, healthcare providers or family members can contact the Child Life Department by email.