Social activities

Re-Entry program

Child Life Program

Child Life programThe Child Life Program, made possible by UC Davis Children’s Hospital, helps provide a positive environment for children, one in which they can grow and develop while receiving medical care. Child life specialists, music therapists and art therapists are trained to offer developmental, educational and therapeutic interventions for children and their families under stress.

Child life specialists are trained professionals who focus on the emotional well-being of hospitalized and other children undergoing medical treatment and their families. To reduce anxiety and promote effective coping, they facilitate play, self-expressive activities and age-appropriate medical preparation and education. Child life specialists are committed to family- and patient-centered care, and in collaboration with other health-care team members, aim to meet the psychosocial and developmental needs of each child. Play materials can be provided at each child’s bedside and play opportunities are available in the infusion center’s Keaton’s Korner play area.

UC Davis’ child life specialists:

  • Provide information, support and education to families
  • Explain medical and surgical procedures to children using play, puppets and medical equipment
  • Accompany children to medical procedures and/or surgeries to provide explanation, reassurance and emotional support
  • Introduce coping strategies to help reduce anxiety and enhance cooperation with the health care team
  • Help siblings understand the infusion center environment, coping and visitation
  • Arrange special events and activities for children and families to help normalize the infusion room environment

Art Therapy

Our art therapist uses the creative arts to promote healing by offering children tools for self-expression as they cope with symptoms, stress or traumatic experiences. She allows them to take an active part in their own healing. Art therapy places the value on art making as a tool for insight and discovery. Making art does not require words to express feelings. It engages the right side of the brain, the part responsible for intuitive, creative and imaginative impulses. Developmentally, this works well for children because art making reveals their internal experience in a safe, secure way.

Re-Entry program

Returning to school after receiving a new diagnosis or treatment can be challenging for children and teenagers. Child Life staff at the Comprehensive Cancer Center offer a school re-entry program to help ease the transition back to mainstream school for our pediatric patients receiving care. This process can help peers and school staff understand the patient’s diagnosis, treatment, healing process, and any changes that may have occurred to their abilities or body image. This can reduce bullying by clearing up misconceptions and helping to foster an understanding and acceptance of the patient’s journey.

After a family expresses interest or medical staff provide a referral, a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) meets with the patient and family to create a personalized presentation based on the patient’s preferences; what they would like to be shared with their peers and how they would like to be involved in the presentation. The Child Life staff will reach out to the patient’s school to coordinate a day and time for an in-person presentation. Child Life staff will also provide letters to staff and families about what topics will be covered and what to expect., as well as follow-up for any questions and concerns.

For more information, please contact Marisa Martinez, CCLS at or your child’s provider.

Clinical support

Survivorship Clinic

The survivorship clinic specifically addresses the long-term effects of cancer treatment on pediatric cancer patients. After completing treatment for cancer, children receive regular check-ups and follow-up care to help evaluate and manage any effects of their cancer treatment.

Long-term effects from cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may include physical, emotional or intellectual problems that develop or evolve over time. Having a clinic dedicated to these issues improves monitoring and early identification, as well as facilitates access to further care when needed.

Lodging for families

Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald HouseRonald McDonald House is a “home away from home” for families who must travel at least 30 miles to seek medical treatment for their child. The Sacramento Ronald McDonald House is a 38-room facility. There are 36 single bedrooms and 2 two-bedroom apartments. Family members have their own bedrooms and bathrooms and share common kitchens, living and laundry facilities. Additionally, there are special rooms set up with toys, computers and video game consoles for the children. The House offers parents and family members of seriously ill and injured children a refuge from the hospital room. Families are asked for a $20 donation per night, although no family is ever turned away due to the inability to pay.

More about lodging »

Kiwanis HouseKiwanis Family House

The Kiwanis Family House offers inexpensive family accommodations for patients and families who travel long distances to receive medical treatment. Residency is offered through a referral system.

More about lodging »

External organizations

National Cancer Institute

A component of the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services founded in 1937, NCI has built a national network of regional and community cancer centers, physicians who are cancer specialists, cooperative groups of clinical researchers, and volunteer and community outreach groups.

Visit the National Cancer Institute site »

American Cancer Society

A grassroots organization with three million volunteers at its core, the 100-year-old nonprofit is the nation’s largest non-governmental funder of cancer research.

Visit the American Cancer Society site »

For more resources, please visit the Patient and Family Learning Center