Child Life Program

Helping Kids to Understand the Hospital Experience

The Child Life Department at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital is staffed by certified and compassionate child life specialists whose goals are to promote optimum development, maintain normal living patterns and minimize psychological trauma for children during their stay at the hospital. Our child life specialists work closely with the child's healthcare team to provide a full continuum of quality and compassionate care for our pediatric patients.

Child Life Department activities and services include:

Hospital Homebound School Program

In partnership with Broward County Schools, a Broward County homebound teacher is on site during regular school hours to help hospitalized children (K-12) keep up with their schoolwork.

Clown Therapy

For more than two decades, Lotsy Dotsy, Joe DiMaggio's resident clown, has been turning frowns into smiles through entertaining activities designed to provide patients and their families with a welcomed distraction. Young ones and grown-ups alike enjoy singing songs, blowing bubbles and playing the harmonica with Lotsy Dotsy.

To request a visit, call 954-265-0171.

Playrooms/Play Areas

Inviting playrooms for children are available in the Love Jen Family Center, Sheridan Healthcorp Family Resource Center and on the third and fourth floors of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. These playrooms have toys, games, medical play and arts and crafts. Play areas are also located in the pre-op areas of the hospital, as well as the second floor surgery, allowing children to play and unwind until just minutes before their scheduled surgery.

Pain Management

We know that some procedures and treatments can hurt. Our team helps to distract children during painful procedures and assist recovering patients with developing strategies for coping with pain.

Pet-a-Pet Program

Some of the most beloved members of the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital team are the four-legged volunteers in our Pet-A-Pet Program. Nutmeg is one of our friendly service dogs that was trained since birth to respond to 80 commands.

Available when a patient needs extra comfort or support, she can chase a ball, help patients with their shoes, open doors and let patients take her for a walk. Families and hospital staff also benefit from taking a moment out of their day to unwind in the company of these dedicated dogs.

All of the dogs in the Pet-A-Pet program, as well as their owners, participate in a rigorous screening and orientation process. Call 954-265-BARK for more information.

Teddy Bear Tours

A Teddy Bear Tour is a great way to help children prepare for an upcoming procedure in an individualized, child-friendly way. Using the child's favorite teddy bear, doll or stuffed animal as a pretend patient, the child can explore the hospital with specially trained, certified Child Life Specialists.

The child and family will see all of the places the child will go during the procedure and learn what happens in each area. Child Life Specialists will help children become more comfortable with medical procedures through supervised play using their doll or stuffed animal and real medical equipment. Children who have upcoming surgeries can visit the pre-operative area. Children who will be admitted to the hospital after surgery will be able to tour an inpatient floor.

For more information or to schedule a Teddy Bear Tour, call 954-265-0108.