You can spend time together with your family and enjoy meals together.
Promoting positive experiences for kids and families
We know it can be scary when your child needs to go to the hospital. The child life specialists at UW Health help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties.
Our team includes specialists trained in child and teen development. We explain medical procedures and diagnoses in an appropriate way for each child to understand for their age and development. We use play and other distractions to make your child’s time in the hospital as positive as possible.
When we work with teens, we empower them with tools and resources to create a coping plan for return to home and school. We also help teens as they transition to adult care.
Our services and teaching tools
Where we work, what we provide
At American Family Children’s Hospital, child life specialists work in most care settings. You’ll also find child life specialists at UW Health at the American Center.
Some places you’ll find us:
Diagnostic therapy center/radiation
Pediatric palliative care
Pediatric specialty clinics
We provide a wide range of activities, guidance, services and spaces to keep your child comfortable and relaxed and to support your family. They include:
Adjustment to hospitalization
Education and resources for difficult conversations with children
Memory making and legacy building
New diagnosis teaching
Pain control and comfort measures
Playrooms and teen lounges (24-hour)
Preparation for surgery
Sibling support and education
Special events and visitors
How to prepare for your child’s hospital visit
You can work with our child life team to prepare your child and family for a hospital stay or surgery. Steps you can take include:
Help your child understand what will happen with our teaching sheets (below)
Inform your child’s school and other groups about the upcoming hospital stay.
Request a hospital or surgery area tour.
Talk with your child and encourage questions.
Use the anesthesia mask and surgical caps from your surgery tour packet to practice wearing them at home.
Show your child what to expect during a procedure
You can use these teaching sheets to talk with your child about an upcoming procedure. The sheets include illustrations so your child can see and understand what will happen.
Programs and spaces
What we do
We provide many programs and spaces to make the hospital experience more enjoyable for your child and family.
Community groups donate meals several days a week. You can eat and talk with other families.
Our teachers help children in 4K through high school keep up with their school work.
From listening to live music, playing instruments, singing or making music videos, our board-certified music therapist provides an interactive experience to support your child’s well-being. Watch this video to learn more
We connect you to helpful resources as you care for a child diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder.
The Parent and Family Advisory Council strives to promote a positive, creative partnership to enhance relationships with the American Family Children's Hospital and the community.
Our team provides pet therapy for your child and family.
Your child and your family can access our 24-hour centers. We offer activities and play to meet the needs of children, teens and siblings.
We work with your child to ease anxiety about appearance-altering conditions or procedures.
We offer interactive experiences for kids and their families.
We provide space and programming where your other children can interact with siblings of other patients.
We have many friendly volunteers who interact and play with patients and provide support to families.
What to bring
Be sure to pack familiar items to help your child feel more comfortable and at ease. You can bring:
Personal care items
Phone and phone charger
Photos of family and friends
Special books or games
Where to find us
Child life specialists are located at American Family Children's Hospital and UW Health at The American Center.
American Family Children's Hospital
- 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
- (608) 263-7337
- Open now
Offering your child the most advanced medical care directed by University of Wisconsin pediatricians – all in a state-of-the-art, family-friendly facility with lots of cozy amenities.
- View hours, services and more
UW Health at The American Center
- 4602 Eastpark Blvd. / Madison, WI
- (608) 440-6400
- Open now
Welcome to UW Health at The American Center in Madison, Wisconsin, part of UW Hospitals — ranked #1 of all Wisconsin hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report. Located on Madison’s far east side, close to the intersection of I-90 and U.S. Hwy 151, we’re a state-of-the-art hospital, health and wellness facility, and sports performance center all under one roof.
- View hours, services and more
For the safety of our patients, families and staff, we are not currently able to accept any in-kind, fabric or homemade donations due to COVID-19 infection control guidelines. Please check back for updates on these restrictions.
You also could consider a philanthropic gift, or you could shop for our most-needed items online at Amazon, Amazon Smile or Target and have them safely shipped to us. For details, visit our Philanthropy page.