Child Life Program

child life specialist team

The Child Life Program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital helps infants, children, youth, and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss, and bereavement. Our team of child life specialists provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions, including therapeutic play, distraction and preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, uncertainty, and pain. In addition, they can help:

  • Celebrate birthdays, holidays or treatment milestones with your child and family.
  • Engage your child in medical play to take the fear out of medical equipment.
  • Educate your child about diagnoses and treatments.
  • Help your child prepare for tests and procedures.
  • Provide support and distractions during medical tests and procedures.

These services are available to patients and families at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital at no extra charge.

Meet the Child Life Team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

Meet the Child Life Team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

Toy Donations

Patients at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital rely on the generosity of our community to brighten their hospital stay. Your donation of new, unused, unwrapped gifts helps create a comfortable, healing environment. Gifts and toys are used by our child life team year-round for special holiday and birthday celebrations, end-of-treatment parties and to celebrate significant milestones.

Thank you for your interest in donating to our patients. Please contact the Donation Line at 954-265-0843 or email for any additional questions.

Donation Guidelines

How can I drop off donations?

Donations can be dropped off at the main entrance of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Monday through Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.

1005 Joe DiMaggio Drive
Hollywood, FL 33021

There is a designated donation area. Please place the items there and a member of our child life team will retrieve them when available.

What is the age range for gifts?

We accept donations for infants to 18 year-olds.

What should I keep in mind when choosing toys and/or supplies to donate?

Although the kids at JDCH receive gifts during the holidays and for celebrations, many of the donated items are also used in our playrooms and patient rooms throughout the year. Toys with fabric cannot be cleaned or used by multiple children. Durable, manageable-sized toys are most appropriate.

Can we donate gently used toys or stuffed animals?

No. Unfortunately, due to infection control and patient safety, we are only able to give out newly purchased items in their original packaging.

My kids have some toys they’ve outgrown. Can JDCH use them?

No. Out of concern for the safety, immunity and allergies of many of our patients, we are unable to accept donations of toys that have been previously played with or were part of private collections.

I’d like to donate books. Do you accept new or used books?

We accept donations of new books and are unfortunately not able to accept used books due to infection prevention.

How can a group of children or students give back to the hospital?
Help make a child’s day by assembling a Joy Kit. These kits are used in a variety of areas throughout the hospital to make our patients and families feel welcome and happy during their visit with us. They include some of our most needed items.
I’m a knitter and would like to knit items. What things do you need most?

We can accept and use knitted IV covers and knitted octopuses and blankets.

Unable to Accept

Due to safety, allergy and immunity concerns of our patients, we are only able to accept new items.

We are unable to accept the following items:

  • Used and previously played with toys, books, games or stuffed animals
  • Bicycles/Scooters
  • Cards for patients
  • Homemade treats (cookies, cupcakes, etc.)
  • Latex items
  • Private collections of toys, books, games or stuffed animals that have never been played with, but have been stored away
  • Violent toys
Will someone pick up my donation?

Due to staffing and transportation limitations, we are unable to pick up donations.

Can I mail my donation?

Yes, please mail toy donations to:

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
Child Life Department
1005 Joe DiMaggio Drive
Hollywood, FL 33021

You also may visit our Amazon wish list to purchase gifts online and have them sent to the Hospital.

May I deliver my gift directly to the children?

We apologize, but because of concerns for patient confidentiality and infection control, our donors are not allowed to deliver gifts directly to children.

Can I wrap my donation?

We kindly ask that all toys are unwrapped. Please do not put labels or tags on gifts.

Frequently Needed Items for Patients and Families

Infants and Toddlers
  • Light, sound, and pop-up toys
  • Mobiles (plastic only, no fabric)
  • Plastic crib toys
  • Teethers
  • Wrist rattles
  • WubbaNub
  • Baby Mitts/Socks
  • Projector and sound machine soothers
  • Onesies
Preschool and School Age
  • Dolls (multi-cultural)
  • Cars, trucks, trains
  • Actions figures / superheroes
  • Plastic animals / dinosaurs
  • Board games / card games
  • Doctor play kits
  • Lego sets
  • LOL surprise dolls
  • Little people play sets
  • Kitchen play items
  • Musical instruments
  • Puzzles
  • Wireless Headphones
  • Over-the-door basketball hoops
  • Plastic dart boards
  • Kinex kits
  • Teen lego sets
  • Board games / Card games
  • Arts and Crafts Kits (ex: Slime)
Arts and Crafts Supplies
  • Jewelry kits
  • Play-doh
  • Stickers / sticker scenes
  • Markers / crayons / colored pencils
  • Slime kits
  • Sand art kits
  • Coloring books (all ages)
  • Bubbles
  • Nail Polish
  • Cozy Socks and Blankets (for all ages)
  • Underwear (for all ages)
  • Toiletry Kits
  • Window Clings

Student Opportunities

Child life specialists are trained in teaching children and adolescents about medical procedures in a developmentally appropriate manner to promote optimum development, maintain normal living patterns, and minimize psychological trauma.

Recognizing the importance of investing in the field of child life, we currently offer two educational opportunities for students pursuing a career in child life.

Apply for Our Practicum and Internship Opportunities

Child Life Clinical Internship

Please Note: We will not be offering a fall 2024 internship opportunity. Please check back for spring 2025.

The Child Life Department offers a 16-week full-time internship during the fall and spring. Applicants must be affiliated with an academic program throughout the duration of the internship. Students are supervised by Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) and participate in rigorous hands-on clinical and academic training.


Please check back for updates regarding our internship offerings.

Child Life Practicum

Please Note: We are now accepting applications for our fall 2024 practicum (pre-internship learning experience). Applications are due by June 30, 2024.

Our practicum program is a largely observational experience for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a child life specialist. Practicum students will have the opportunity to shadow child life specialists, gain exposure to common procedures, interact with patients and families, and facilitate therapeutic play activities.

The practicum is designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of child life practice through observation of the daily work of a Certified Child Life Specialist.


Please email your completed fall 2024practicum application to by June 30, 2024.


Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Prom

Prom is a special time of year for many high school juniors and seniors. For most, it's a time of firsts: the first formal dance where you get dressed up and take professional photos; the first time you drive your parent's car or rent a limousine; the first upscale dinner date with friends. Not only is it a time to celebrate the end of the school year, it marks a milestone in their lives as they transition from high school students to young adults.

At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, it's is a time for past and current patients to attend prom, despite their physical or medical situations.

In an effort to cherish this special moment, the hospital hosted its first prom in 2016 for our teenage patients, ages 13-19. Every year, a theme is chosen and our patients are treated to a fun-filled evening. Leading up to the prom, teens are also treated to complimentary tuxedo and dress rentals and professional hair and makeup services.

Prom Registration

To register to attend the 2024 Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Prom on June 8, please submit the completed prom registration form by May 3, 2024.

Important: Please submit the completed photo release form [English or Español] prior to the prom. This is required in order to attend the event so we can authorize photos being taken of participants.

Please submit all forms to Gabby, prom coordinator, at

Lotsy Dotsy Makes Families Feel Better

Lotsy Dotsy Makes Families Feel Better

Lotsy Dotsy is chief of clown services at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

She uses bubbles, magic, singing, talking and hugging as therapeutic techniques for patients of all ages.

She also takes care of their moms and dads.

Patient- and family-centered care is part of why parents trust the experts in pediatrics at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital – when it matters most.
Child Life Specialists Help Children with Special Needs

Child Life Specialists Help Children with Special Needs

Christopher Reads His Class Assignment to Sam - His Child Life Specialist

Christopher Reads His Class Assignment to Sam - His Child Life Specialist

As a class assignment, Christopher was asked to write about someone special: he chose Sam, his Child Life Specialist.

Here is Christopher's ode to Sam. We think he should get an A+
Meet the Child Life Team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

Meet the Child Life Team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

Learn what a Child Life Specialist does at the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital