What is a Child Life?
The role of a child life specialist is to focus on the psychosocial needs of children and families in the healthcare setting. Child Life at The University of Vermont Children's Hospital strives to empower children with knowledge and equip them with coping strategies so that they may face potential stressors with understanding and confidence.
Additionally, Child Life serves children and families from Vermont and northern New York by promoting healthy growth and development for children who are hospitalized by normalizing their environment and providing opportunities for play. Child life specialists are educators, coaches, cheerleaders, friends, and advocates.
Our Child Life Specialists
The University of Vermont Children's Hospital and UVM Medical Center have eleven Child Life Specialists:
|Name of Specialist||Department||Contact Info|
|Jennifer Dawson||Inpatient Pediatrics / Pediatric Intensive Care Unit||802-847-4913|
Inpatient Pediatrics / Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Emergency Dept.
|Jen Hipsley||Pediatric Phlebotomy||802-847-5879|
|Ashley Mitchell-Ringuette||Children's Specialty Center||802-847-4526|
Inpatient Pediatrics/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
|Sarah Taylor||Per Diem||802-847-4913|
|Ali Waltien||Children of adult patients||802-847-4069|
Child Life Students & Volunteers
Please note: We are not currently accepting internship applicants.
Child Life Information Sessions are offered to help people to learn more about the field of Child Life and educate them on the process of becoming a certified Child Life Specialist. Information sessions provide an opportunity to sit one on one or in a small group setting with a Child Life Specialist to answer any questions about the field.
If you would like to find out about future sessions, please contact the Child Life Department at childlifeuvmhealth [dot] org.
We do not accept job shadows at this time. Individuals looking to gain more knowledge about Child Life and the role of the Child Life Specialist are encouraged to attend the information sessions mentioned above.
Volunteering at the UVM Children's Hospital
If you would like to be a Child Life volunteer on the
Volunteers must be able to commit to a shift
Duties include interacting with children (ages birth to adolescence) and their families in the playroom and at the bedside, engaging children in play activities and offering parents respite. Other responsibilities include toy cleaning and organizing, along with helping Child Life staff with special projects.
We are currently not accepting donations at this time due to COVID infection prevention, with the exception of orders placed through our Amazon wish list.
Donations to Child Life
We have provided a wish list that is updated seasonally (as our needs are always changing!). If you would like to donate to the University of Vermont Children's Hospital please call The Child Life Department also organizes any donations made to the UVM Children's Hospital. We have provided a wish list that is updated seasonally (as our needs are always changing!). If you would like to donate to the University of Vermont Children's Hospital please call 802-847-7831 to speak to a child life specialist about how to coordinate a donation.
Thank you so much for thinking about our children at The University of Vermont Children's Hospital. A hospital can be an overwhelming place for children, but Child Life Specialists help to navigate the uncertainty with a helping hand. By donating to the UVM Children's Hospital you are helping to ensure that children have the opportunity to still be children, despite their medical needs. On behalf of our patients and their families, we thank you for your kindness!
We thank you for your interest in donating items to the University of Vermont Children's Hospital! We have established the following guidelines to be sure your gifts will be safe for our patients and are able to be used.
- Stuffed animals - Due to infection control policies, we can only accept NEW & UNUSED stuffed animals, clothing or blankets.
- Toys - Toys must have non-fabric, non-porous, hard, cleanable surfaces. Similarly, please make sure toys are safe! Small items (such as button eyes) that can break off or be removed are kindly discouraged.
- Food - Must be pre-packaged (individually wrapped, commercially produced) and Child Life will be responsible for passing it out to appropriate rooms.
- No gift wrapping - Safety regulations require even labeled gifts to be checked for gift appropriateness. Wrapping paper, ribbons, tape and tags are most welcome as a donation and we are happy to wrap the gifts, however all gifts must be viewed by staff before distributing.
- Latex free - All products must be latex free for safety reasons.
- Non-denominational - In order to respect the individual beliefs of the families we serve, we ask that donations be non-denominational.
Donations can be dropped off at the information desk on the Level 3 main lobby or a donation drop off can be scheduled by calling the donation hotline. When dropping off a donation, please ask the volunteers at the information desk on the third floor to help you fill out a "Gift In-kind Form" so that we can properly thank you for your kindness.
Please contact the Child Life donation hotline: 802-847-7831 for more information regarding donations or to schedule a donation drop off.
Donation Wish List
Our wish list will directly link you to Amazon where we have highlighted items that we are in need of at this time. Items on our wish list are used for a wide range of needs at the UVM Children's Hospital. Our main priority is to provide children and families with the tools that they need to establish some normalcy in what can be a potentially stressful environment.
***We currently have a high need for infant and adolescent items. Please see our Amazon wish list for suggestions!***
To shop our Wish List, please click here. If you send a donation from our Amazon wish list, please include your name and contact information so that we may properly thank you for your donation!
What Kinds of Items are We Looking For?
- Teaching Tools - Teaching tools help child life specialists to educate and prepare children about any medical interventions they may face either with themselves or a family member. Preparing children helps to build confidence and knowledge so that children can face medical interventions or possible changes in their family with the proper support and care required.
- Distraction/Coping Items - Distraction and coping items are utilized during procedures. Children benefit from having a plan made prior to any medical interventions so they have a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrolled environment. These tools help to focus the attention of the child and can help ease anxiety during a variety of medical procedures.
- Arts and Crafts - We utilize a variety of arts and craft activities, some more therapeutic aimed at self-expression and others purely diversional.
- BoardGames/Card Games - Everyone benefits from a little fun. (Ex: Skip Bo, Uno, Phase 10).
- DVD's - We stock an assortment of movies to entertain children and teens. Nothing "R" rated, please! We love having multiple copies, as well. New releases are always in high demand!
- Video Games: We have Wii U games. Please make sure games are rated "E" for everyone!
DIY Projects for Donors
Some donors prefer to make something for our pediatric patients. Handmade gifts are always appreciated. Sometimes large groups want to do a drive of some sort to raise items for hospitalized children.
The following items have been successful in the past (please contact our donation hotline at 802-847-7831 for "how to" questions):
- Blankets and quilts (for infants-adolescents, male and female)
- Personal care kits for males and females (lotions, cosmetics, travel size toiletries etc.)
- I-Spy Boards
- Kid friendly Band-aid drives
- Fun Sock drives
- Muslin dolls for children to draw on (Leave face/hair/body blank so that children can create their own)