Child Life Services

We know that the best care for kids and families includes psychosocial care. Our certified Child Life Specialists are experts in child development and understanding children’s responses to medical experiences. They work closely with the entire team to make sure children and families have the tools, information and resources to cope with the entire experience. Our Child Life team promotes healthy coping and healing by providing:

  • Developmentally appropriate, hands-on education during pre-op visits for any child scheduled for cardiac surgery
  • Procedure support during pre-op bloodwork, echocardiograms and other tests as needed
  • Preparation and support during outpatient cardiac procedures
  • Post-procedural processing after any procedure or surgery
  • Developmental play to support growth and development in the hospital, adapted to each child’s medical needs
  • Opportunities for self-expression and ongoing facilitation of coping strategies to decrease stress and anxiety

Community Engagement and Connection - Child Life on Call App

Inova’s Child Life services extend to the outpatient clinic setting and at home, in the form of the Child Life On Call app. This app provides resources and tools curated specifically for Inova’s pediatric patients and families. Parents: Use the Inova code 559470 to download the app for free.

Annual Pediatric Cardiac Picnic

Each year, we also host a pediatric cardiac picnic for patients, families and Inova team members. This joyful event provides an opportunity to connect with other cardiac families and to reconnect with the many Inova physicians and team members who care for our heart warriors.

Cardiac Parent Advisory Council

We also recognize that parents are an essential part of the care team. We are proud to have a Cardiac Parent Advisory Council guiding our work. This group consists of parents of former cardiac patients, physicians, nurses, administrators and certified child life specialists. Together, they tap into the unique expertise of parents to guide the team in ongoing process improvement. The voice of the parent is incredibly valuable, and we are grateful to have this group supporting the program. If you would like to learn more about Inova Children’s Heart Center’s Cardiac Parent Advisory Council, please contact Jamie Gentille, System Director of Child Life and Community Engagement, at

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