Kids Need More Than Medicine to Get Well

Being hospitalized and undergoing testing and treatment can be traumatic for anyone, especially a child. That’s why at Holtz Children’s, the child life team plays an important role in the treatment and recovery of every child. Working on an individual basis with each patient and family, these child life specialists strive to make children feel at home in the hospital and provide emotional support to help them cope with their illness and/or disease.

What Is a Child Life Specialist?

Child life specialists are trained professionals who recognize that illness and hospitalization are stressful events in the lives of children and their families. By using age-appropriate education, preparation, and supportive activities, they strive to decrease stress, normalize the environment, and increase positive coping during the healthcare experience.

The members of the child life staff at Holtz Children’s are active members of each child’s healthcare team. They have specialized education in child development, psychosocial support, and therapeutic play. They each hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in child life/child development, education, and/or psychology, and are professionally certified and affiliated with the Child Life Council,

Child Life Specialists Offer:

  • Age-appropriate explanations of diagnoses and preparation for procedures
  • Support before, during, and after stressful procedures and events
  • Coping techniques such as distraction, breathing and relaxation
  • Age-appropriate therapeutic and recreational play
  • Sibling emotional support and education about loved one’s hospitalization
  • Socialization activities with peers in our playrooms/activity room
  • Expert consultation for caregivers and medical team members regarding each child’s development
  • Coordination of special events, groups, and visitors

How You Can Help Support Your Child:

  • Provide accurate information without giving too much detail.
  • Discuss ways to cope with your child’s fears or discomfort prior to a stressful event, such as holding your hand, counting or singing a favorite song.
  • Arrange opportunities for play with dolls, stuffed animals, and medical play kits.
  • Encourage your child to bring a “comfort item” with them, such as a special blanket, toy or stuffed animal. Patients may wear their own set of pajamas if preferred.
  • Keep any documentation or important medical information on hand, including a list of medications and any dietary or allergy restrictions.

Playrooms/Activity Rooms

  • Located throughout Holtz Children’s, these spaces provide opportunities for play, socialization, and normalization.
  • NO medical procedures are allowed in these areas, so children see them as SAFE places.
  • Visitors and siblings are welcome, as long as they are accompanied by the patient and supervised by their adult caregiver.
  • The days and times when the playrooms are open may vary. A member of the child life team can tell you the current schedule.

If you would like more information, please contact the Child Life Department with any questions. Call 305-585-5430 from outside of the hospital or extension 85-5430 from a hospital phone.
The Child Life team is available on Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Child Life Department
Holtz Children’s Hospital
1611 N.W. 12th Avenue, Room 6007
Miami, Florida 33136

Music Therapy

Music therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of people of all ages. Board-certified music therapists use music-based interventions, such as songwriting, playing musical instruments, or singing, to target non-musical goals. This therapeutic approach reduces anxiety, pain perception, and increases the emotional expression of our patients.

The music therapists at Holtz Children’s work with physicians, nurses, child life specialists, and other staff members for a multi-disciplinary, therapeutic approach. Our music therapy program addresses the needs of patients at both Holtz Children’s and at the Jackson Pediatric Center.

The music therapy program works with both patients and their families to:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Reduce pain, nausea, and discomfort
  • Maintain or improve executive functioning and other cognitive skills
  • Provide procedural support before, during, and after medical interventions
  • Improve understanding of medical treatments
  • Increase relaxation
  • Improve quality of life
  • Provide normalcy to the hospital environment
  • Increase interpersonal relationships
  • Improve coping skills and emotional expression

Weekly groups are also held on numerous units for patients and families. Groups include infants and caregivers, children, and teens.

For more information, contact Stephanie Epstein, music therapist, at or call 305-585-3683.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering at Holtz Children’s is an exciting and rewarding opportunity for professionals, seniors, students, families, and groups. Volunteers assist in a number of different areas of the hospital and work closely with our Child Life team of specialists.
To become a volunteer, please complete an online application and provide all required documentation. For more information, please contact the Volunteer Resources Department at 305-585-6541 or send an email to

*All volunteers must be 15 years or older.