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  • Along for the Journey: Supporting Patients With Chronic Illness Through Life Transitions

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Transition is defined as a passage from one stage to another (Merriam-Webster, 2018). Within pediatric health care the word transition is most often used when referring to the transition from pediatric to adult health care. While the transition to adult health care is a significant event for many patients with chronic illnesses, there are many other life transitions that are potentially stressful and offer opportunities for child life specialists to provide support. Some of these other transitions include the transition between medical teams, to foster care, palliative and/or hospice care, and end of life. Child life specialists, especially those who work with patients with chronic illnesses, are often in the position to provide support during these transitions. It is important for child life specialists to be aware of the various transitions that patients may be experiencing, as this is an opportunity to provide individualized care to promote positive adjustment.

    Transition is defined as a passage from one stage to another (Merriam-Webster, 2018). Within pediatric health care the word transition is most often used when referring to the transition from pediatric to adult health care. While the transition to adult health care is a significant event for many patients with chronic illnesses, there are many other life transitions that are potentially stressful and offer opportunities for child life specialists to provide support. Some of these other transitions include the transition between medical teams, to foster care, palliative and/or hospice care, and end of life. Child life specialists, especially those who work with patients with chronic illnesses, are often in the position to provide support during these transitions. It is important for child life specialists to be aware of the various transitions that patients may be experiencing, as this is an opportunity to provide individualized care to promote positive adjustment.

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    an increased understanding of various transitions that patients may experience

    knowledge of interventions to utilize as they support patients through various transitions

    the ability to consider the impact of transitions on a patient’s coping within the health care setting

    Nikki Orkoskey

    MS, CCLS

    Nikki Orkoskey is a child life specialist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio. She currently works with patients of all ages and their families on an inpatient pulmonary and endocrinology unit. Nikki’s expertise on this subject matter is based on 19 years of experience supporting patients with chronic illnesses, including cystic fibrosis and diabetes. She has supported multiple patients through various transitions including the transition to adult care, between medical teams, to palliative care, hospice, and end of life.

    Nicole Tanghe

    MA, CCLS

    Nicole Tanghe has been working as a child life specialist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio since 2010. She currently works with pediatric patients and their families within the lung transplant program. Her interest and experience with working with long-term patients developed in her previous assignments within the Josh Cares program and Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s. Nicole was a participant of the ACLP’s inaugural Leadership Academy class in 2015 and has served on the Volunteer Recognition and Engagement Subcommittee. 

  • Helping Teenagers Cope with Parental Illness and Loss

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Supporting teens and their families when a parent has a serious or terminal illness requires specific knowledge and skills. Current research will be highlighted with focus given to the distinctive characteristics of the teenage brain, including what teens need and want related to support during a parental illness, anticipated death, or sudden unexpected loss. Specific communication techniques for professionals to use with teens and to coach parents to use with their teen will be provided. In addition, time will be spent on helpful activities that engage teens and allow them to express feelings, strengthen positive coping skills and work through challenges of bereavement.

    Supporting teens and their families when a parent has a serious or terminal illness requires specific knowledge and skills. Current research will be highlighted with focus given to the distinctive characteristics of the teenage brain, including what teens need and want related to support during a parental illness, anticipated death, or sudden unexpected loss.  Specific communication techniques for professionals to use with teens and to coach parents to use with their teen will be provided. In addition, time will be spent on helpful activities that engage teens and allow them to express feelings, strengthen positive coping skills and work through challenges of bereavement. 

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    a familiarity with the teenage brain and behaviors, noting differences between males and females

    an increased knowledge of ways to relate to teenagers, including how parents and professionals can improve communication with teens

    new therapeutic activity ideas to engage teenagers in understanding illness, expressing feelings, and building helpful coping tools

    Meredith Cooper

    MA, CCLS, LPC

    Former Executive Director and Co-Founder of  Wonders & Worries, envisioned, launched and grew the organization from its beginnings in 2001. Following 15 years of success, Meredith stepped into a founder role in 2017, where she continues providing strategic direction for national growth. Meredith has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Child Development. She is a certified Child Life Specialist and a Licensed Professional Counselor who has been involved with children’s healthcare in the Austin community for more than 25 years, including being the first pediatric oncology child life specialist for Austin. She is the chair of the standards and guidelines sub-committee for the ACLP Community Based Non-Traditional Role Committee. 

    Kim Fryar

    MS, MEd, CCLS, NCC

    Kim Fryar has been a child life specialist for more than 25 years. She started her career at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, where she worked with seriously ill children and their families for nine years. Kim moved to Austin and joined the Wonders & Worries team in 2002. Kim now serves as one of two program directors, a role that gives her the privilege of providing initial support to newly referred families, supervising child life staff members, and overseeing client services. Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in Family Relations and Child Development and Masters’ degrees in both Human Development and Family Studies and Counseling – with a play therapy emphasis. She is a certified Child Life Specialist and National Certified Counselor (NCC).

  • The Building Blocks of Competence: Exploring Grief Work and School Collaboration

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Grief, competency, and school collaboration are all common themes in child life; however, the connection between these areas is often underexplored. Shedding light on the significance of the relationship between these topics, this presentation will provide insight into grief work as it relates to child life practice and school partnerships. This webinar will highlight three areas—theory, intervention, and advocacy—to build upon our competence surrounding grief, and explore new avenues to empower patients, families, and school staff regarding death and the grieving process. Participants will acquire new insights to move from knowledge to application, gaining tools to enhance collaboration with school systems and advance both their school reintegration and child life practice.

    Grief, competency, and school collaboration are all common themes in child life; however, the connection between these areas is often underexplored. Shedding light on the significance of the relationship between these topics, this presentation will provide insight into grief work as it relates to child life practice and school partnerships. This webinar will highlight three areas—theory, intervention, and advocacy—to build upon our competence surrounding grief, and explore new avenues to empower patients, families, and school staff regarding death and the grieving process.  Participants will acquire new insights to move from knowledge to application, gaining tools to enhance collaboration with school systems and advance both their school reintegration and child life practice. 

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    an understanding of the theories and models of grief as they relate to competency in child life.

    strategies to increase collaboration with school systems regarding grief and loss.

    the ability to recognize resources for students, families and staff to support positive coping and enhance school reintegration practice.

    Jessica Hotchkiss

    MS, CCLS, NCC

    Jessica  Hotchkiss works at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Prior to arriving at St. Jude, she worked for five years at Sanford Children's Hospital in Fargo, ND. Jessica completed her master's degree in counseling at North Dakota State University, and is currently working on her doctorate in counselor education and supervision and her certificate in grief counseling. Being certified as both a child life specialist and National Certified Counselor has provided her with unique opportunities to work with children and families during moments of crisis, trauma, and end-of-life, in both the hospital and school settings. Her research focuses on school reintegration for children with medical conditions, relational-cultural theory, bereavement, and trauma. 

  • The Need for Adolescent Sexual Health Education in Child Life Practice

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    With the number of sexually transmitted diseases on the rise and the risk of teen pregnancy looming, it would make sense that a profession that focuses on the developmentally appropriate needs of youth would feel compelled to ensure adolescents are well-educated and able to advocate for their sexual health.

    With the number of sexually transmitted diseases on the rise and the risk of teen pregnancy looming, it would make sense that a profession that focuses on the developmentally appropriate needs of youth would feel compelled to ensure adolescents are well-educated and able to advocate for their sexual health.  Unfortunately, many child life specialists do not feel comfortable and/or equipped to engage in sexual health conversations when the opportunity presents itself.  This webinar will explore the limitations and hesitations of specialists and will include guidance on how to overcome these barriers for the benefit of the patients and families they serve.

  • Meeting Families Where They Are: Using Assessment to Get There

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    The way families react to the medical environment drives how clinicians provide support. By thoroughly assessing the family, the clinician can provide the best individualized care.

    The way families react to the medical environment drives how clinicians provide support. By thoroughly assessing the family, the clinician can provide the best individualized care. Conflict can occur when a family’s opinion of their own needs does not align with the assessment of the child life specialist and medical team. The clinicians must adapt to the needs of the patient and the family in order to provide the highest quality of care. This presentation will highlight the benefits of evaluating each family and how to incorporate that information into daily practice. 

    Amy Kennedy

    CCLS

    Amy  Kennedy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in child and family development from Missouri State University in 1995 and became a Certified Child Life Specialist in 1998.  Amy previously worked at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis for 3 years.  As lead child life specialist for the child life program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Amy is responsible for providing child life services in the radiation oncology clinic. Throughout her 18 years with St. Jude, she has held positions on the bone marrow transplant unit and worked as the inpatient specialist serving patients with leukemia, lymphoma, or solid tumors. As a lead child life specialist Amy assists in research, facilitating clinical supervision, and providing leadership and mentorship to her peers within the child life program. In all of her roles her focus has been on providing individualized support to meet the needs of the patients and families where they were in their healthcare experience.  

    Ashley Anderst

    CCLS

    Ashley Anderst earned her BS degree at the University of North Dakota in 2007, where she majored in early childhood education. Ashley completed her child life internship at Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane, WA. Ashley began her career in the child life field at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, WA in 2008 where she provided per diem services to all clinical areas. Ashley continued her career at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN in 2008 and is currently providing care to patients and families in neuro-oncology. During her time at St. Jude, Ashley has served on the hospital’s Professional Excellence Council which promotes clinical excellence within the institution. In every setting, Ashley has focused on the importance of meeting each family where they are to provide individualized support during their hospital experience.

  • “What’s Going on in that Teenager’s Brain?” Understanding the Adolescent Brain and its Effects on Hospitalization

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Working with adolescents can be challenging inside and outside of the hospital setting. Understanding the development of the adolescent brain, both anatomically and psychologically, can provide a child life specialist greater insight into assessing teens and creating effective interventions to implement in daily practice.

    Working with adolescents can be challenging inside and outside of the hospital setting.   Understanding the development of the adolescent brain, both anatomically and psychologically, can provide a child life specialist greater insight into assessing teens and creating effective interventions to implement in daily practice.  When teenagers are hospitalized frequently, it can leave many adolescents feeling isolated and possibly burdensome to their family.  It can be difficult for the teens to identify what “needs” they may have.  Through interventions focusing on identifying emotions related to their hospital/illness experience, positive coping strategies can be taught to empower adolescents in their daily lives.    

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    the ability to discuss adolescent brain development and how this affects adolescents’ decision making

    the knowledge needed to identify the effects of illness, stress, and hospitalization in adolescents

    the tools to implement interventions and facilitate conversations with family and staff in an effort to provide maximum support to adolescents in the hospital

    Julia Mendoza

    CCLS

    Julia Mendoza has been a child life specialist at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX, since 2006. She has worked with the neonatal population, on a surgical inpatient unit, and has been the pediatric dialysis child life specialist for six years. Working in the pediatric dialysis unit, Julia has had a variety of experience with adolescents dealing with a chronic illness. She has also been the child life internship coordinator since 2009 and is a current member of the ACLP practicum task force. 

    Kimmie Bayliss

    CCLS

    Kimmie Bayliss has worked as a child life specialist at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX, for 9 years.  Areas she has worked in include a level one emergency center, an intensive outpatient program focusing on teens with medical and mental health needs, and pediatric intensive care unit/intermediate monitoring unit.  Since 2005, Kimmie also gained experience with teens living with chronic illnesses and their siblings while working at Camp For All in Burton, TX.

  • A Blueprint for Building Interdisciplinary Support Groups

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    ​Experiencing stressful and potentially traumatic medical events can cause feelings of isolation and fear for every member of a family including patients, siblings, and caregivers. Group interventions, such as facilitated support groups, can be extremely beneficial in normalizing medical experiences by providing a safe space for pediatric patients and their families to express their emotions and relate to others.

    Experiencing stressful and potentially traumatic medical events can cause feelings of isolation and fear for every member of a family including patients, siblings, and caregivers. Group interventions, such as facilitated support groups, can be extremely beneficial in normalizing medical experiences by providing a safe space for pediatric patients and their families to express their emotions and relate to others. The training, skill set, and relationships that certified child life specialists uphold among patients, families, and the medical team places them in an ideal position for identifying a need and facilitating significant support group programming. Based upon theory and presenters’ firsthand experiences with interdisciplinary support groups, this presentation will provide a blueprint for any child life specialist who is looking to expound on their therapeutic competencies. Moreover, this presentation will promote the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, and will elaborate on how to identify the most suitable co-facilitators.

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    the ability to identify a population and need that could be better supported through the support group model

    an increased knowledge of ways to best identify and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities

    an understanding of the research and therapeutic benefits of support group interventions

    systematic guidelines for implementing a successful support group within a medical setting

    the ability to identify the various types of support group models and the factors to consider when choosing the best one for each situation

    examples of effective interventions to use with various support groups

    Bailey A. Huber

    MS, CCLS

    Bailey A. Huber began her child life journey upon acceptance into the child life program at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in 2012. During her master’s program, Bailey held the role of child life assistant at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and subsequently interned at the Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. After graduation and certification in 2014, Bailey obtained the role of burn service child life specialist on the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and has developed a strong passion for supporting the short and long-term coping and adjustment for pediatric burn survivors and their families. 

    Blakely M. Durham

    CCLS

    Blakely  M. Durham laid the groundwork for her child life career with the studies and educational experiences achieved while at The University of Alabama. In addition to becoming certified in 2014, Blakely’s child life and professional competencies have been fostered by internship experiences at BabyTALK and Children’s of Alabama, and subsequent professional opportunities with Save the Children. Blakely currently assumes the role of the outpatient services child life specialist at the Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital of the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where she works closely with many pediatric interdisciplinary teams, patients, and families in primary and specialized care, neurological surgery, CPAP, and craniofacial clinics.

    Blakely M. Durham

    CCLS

    Blakely  M. Durham laid the groundwork for her child life career with the studies and educational experiences achieved while at The University of Alabama. In addition to becoming certified in 2014, Blakely’s child life and professional competencies have been fostered by internship experiences at BabyTALK and Children’s of Alabama, and subsequent professional opportunities with Save the Children. Blakely currently assumes the role of the outpatient services child life specialist at the Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital of the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where she works closely with many pediatric interdisciplinary teams, patients, and families in primary and specialized care, neurological surgery, CPAP, and craniofacial clinics.

  • Creating a Sharing Place: Grief Support Both In and Out of the Hospital

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Child life specialists use their knowledge of human development, medical understanding, skills in validation, and creativity to assist in increasing the child’s understanding of death and providing memory making opportunities in the hospital setting.

    Child life specialists use their knowledge of human development, medical understanding, skills in validation, and creativity to assist in increasing the child’s understanding of death and providing memory making opportunities in the hospital setting. These skills can also be applied in grief groups outside of the hospital with children who have a need for longer processing of the grief. By creating opportunities to work with children and families on grief, child life specialists further develop their skills in working with patients and families experiencing loss and cultivate new opportunities to utilize their child life training and skill set. During this webinar, attendees will learn more about grief groups from the perspective of child life specialists who work both within and outside the hospital. Attendees will gain knowledge about how to create and sustain grief groups and the benefits they can offer to children and families. 

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    1. tools for beginning conversations on death and dying that take into account the child’s development and the personal beliefs of the family
    2. a familiarity with the differences between a child’s immediate understanding of death and the later processing of grief
    3. an understanding of why continued psychosocial support and normalization are important for grief processing
    4. a model for grief groups in the hospital setting
    5. a model for offering offsite grief support for children, adolescents, and parents
    6. tips on how to build and sustain grief groups
  • It’s a Fellow Thing: Closing the Gap in Child Life Services

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    ​In the changing landscape of health care, child life departments have been forced to get creative with budgets, positions and staffing in order to meet the needs and/or demands for child life services

    In the changing landscape of health care, child life departments have been forced to get creative with budgets, positions and staffing in order to meet the needs and/or demands for child life services. With the creation of child life fellowships, gaps in underserved populations can be filled. This webinar will discuss the process of creating and implanting child life fellowships as well as provide insight from a child life fellow about the benefits of fellowship post internship.

  • When the “Right” Words Seem to Hold Us Back:  Approaching Difficult Conversations with Confidence

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Engaging in difficult conversations is not solely about having the “right” words; it’s about how compassion, perspective, and words work together to create meaningful conversations. This webinar will focus on empowering professionals to feel equipped when navigating sensitive discussions with families at end of life. Through case examples and personal experiences from bereaved parents, effective child life and communication strategies will be explored.

    Engaging in difficult conversations is not solely about having the “right” words; it’s about how compassion, perspective, and words work together to create meaningful conversations. This webinar will focus on empowering professionals to feel equipped when navigating sensitive discussions with families at end of life. Through case examples and personal experiences from bereaved parents, effective child life and communication strategies will be explored.

    After this webinar, participants will have:

    an increased ability to identify and process difficult conversations related to children and families’ experiences at end of life

    additional knowledge on how to initiate conversations with a child and their family independently or collaboratively with a support team

    expanded insight on how joint efforts within a palliative care team benefit the child and their family

    further information regarding the role and responsibilities of the child life specialist when working with children and families at end of life

    Jennifer Smith

    MS, CCLS, CIMI

    Jennifer Smith earned her BS and MS in human development and family studies with a concentration in child life from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. She completed her undergraduate child life internship at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN, and her graduate child life internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.  She began her career at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix, AZ, where she worked for 6 years.  Jennifer is a currently a Child Life Specialist III providing child life services for patients and families in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, where she has worked for 11 years.  She is an integral member of the Quality of Life Team and the Quality of Life Bereaved Parent Mentor Steering Committee.  

    Ashley Carr

    CCLS

    Ashley Carr earned her BS in child and family studies with an emphasis in child life from The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS. She completed her child life internship at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, MD and began her career at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, where she has worked for 11 years.  Ashley is currently a Child Life Specialist III, providing child life services to patients receiving bone marrow transplants and cellular therapy on the inpatient bone marrow transplant unit at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN. She is an integral member of the Quality of Life Team, facilitates clinical supervision and is a member of the planning committee for Schwartz Center Rounds.