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Hearts Connected is an innovative program that connects children facing challenging situations to Child Life Specialists

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a Child Life Specialist?


Families with kids experiencing a difficult time such as change, overwhelming grief and/or loss.
Organizations that want to offer specialists trained to help kids with coping techniques. Examples of challenging circumstances may include but are not limited to: • Anxiety or fear surrounding doctors or dentist visits, tests or procedures • Death of a parent, grandparent, family member, friend, or pet • Difficulty understanding an acute or chronic health diagnosis for the parent or child • Difficulty coping with the effects COVID-19 • School re-entry following a health diagnosis or significant life change • Difficulty coping with significant transitions such as moving, deployment, custody change, or incarceration • Coping with a child or sibling with special needs




What ages does Hearts Connected work with?


Hearts Connected provides services for children of all ages. Direct services to children typically begins at the age of 4 years. We recognize that even the youngest of children face difficult circumstances, life changes, grief, and loss, too. We are available to work directly with the parents and caregivers for children under the age of 4, to provide useful resources, guidance, and support to help meet the needs of the littlest ones as well. Hearts Connected can also provide resources for parents, caregivers, and family members as they prepare to navigate through tough conversations or seek resources to support their child or adolescent.




What needs to be done prior to connecting with our child?


Prior to working with your child, an initial assessment will be completed by family and reviewed by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). A CCLS will consult with the parent or caregiver prior to working with the child directly. We encourage a parent or caregiver to be present for at least the initial 5 minutes of a virtual session. If the CCLS feels that the child and family may benefit from any type of pre-work, this will be provided directly to the parent or caregiver with a plan clearly outlined.




What is included in a facilitated session?


A phone consultation is typically the best starting point. This is where we discuss with parents/caregivers any questions and concerns about the current situation. We will offer suggestions and guidance on the best next steps. Each video session with a child and family is tailored for the specific needs identified during the initial consult or the intake process. Some common components of a session include: discussion with family and child on a plan, a therapeutic activity with child life specialist and child focused on coping, purposeful discussion to help the child understand and progress through feelings, parent education and coaching, and a wrap-up session with parent or caregiver at the conclusion of the session to review the session if they were not present and discuss additional resources and recommendations.




What is the cost?


The cost of services is based on the length, platform and plan of care. This information can be found on our Services page. Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any additional questions surrounding our services.




What is a Child Life Specialist?


Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) are certified and clinically trained in the developmental impact that illness, injury, trauma, and loss can have on a child. All CCLS's have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, have completed a 600 hour internship and passed a national certifying examination. Child Life Specialists work with children of all ages, birth through young adulthood and collaborate extensively with the child’s family, recognizing that they are the true expert in knowing their child. To reduce fear and anxiety, Child Life Specialists utilize developmentally and psychologically appropriate tools such as therapeutic play, coping interventions, and supportive resources to provide psychosocial and emotional support. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “child life interventions facilitate coping and adjustment at times and under circumstances that might otherwise prove overwhelming for the child.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the value of the child life profession and the support that Certified Child Life Specialists can provide to children and adolescents. Families with children facing a difficult time such as overwhelming grief and/or loss, coping with a significant transition or a new medical diagnosis in the family will benefit from the support of a Certified Child Life Specialist. Examples of challenging circumstances may include but are not limited to: • Anxiety or fear surrounding doctors or dentist visits, tests or procedures • Death of a parent, grandparent, family member, friend, or pet • Difficulty understanding an acute or chronic health diagnosis for the parent or child • Difficulty coping with the effects COVID-19 • School re-entry following a health diagnosis or significant life change • Difficulty coping with significant transitions such as moving, deployment, custody change, or incarceration • Coping with a child or sibling with special needs Reference: Committee on Hospital Care and Association of Child Life Professionals (formerly known as The Child life Council). Child Life Services. Pediatrics May 2014, 133 (5) e1471-e1478; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2014-0556)





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