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MCoE Supporting Child Life Specialists with Edutainment

March 2022: Article by Katie Detrich, M.S., CCLS Certified Child Life Specialist

The role of child life specialists

Did you know March is Child Life month? And did you know that KP Southern California has nine child life specialists across the region? Child life specialists provide preparation, education, and support for pediatric patients. A large part of our job is preparing kids for surgery and other procedures.

Studies show that distraction and support from child life specialists enhance child and parent experiences. Additionally, child life specialists can decrease hospital costs and use of anesthesia by supporting patients in procedures where they would otherwise need sedation. We have seen this first hand many times!

“Edutainment” plays a big part

The MCoE has been crucial for child life specialists, as we rely heavily on technology to educate patients. With the MCoE’s help, the Anaheim Child Life team has been able to deploy over 20 apps on their iPads to prepare patients for procedures and provide distraction for painful procedures like IV starts – see photo above of one of recent encounters! The pediatrics unit even has two ipads with Disney+ streaming.

The MCoE evaluated a list of 130 apps for criteria including no login requirement, in-app purchases, or connections to social media. Apps that passed this screening were then put through the certification process prior to releasing the designated iPads. Additionally, the iPads themselves were setup to ensure a secure experience.

Some of our favorite apps

iPads are crucial to child life support, especially education. Through our partnership with the MCoE we have a variety of apps deployed. Here are some of our favorite ones!

Simply Sayin’ by MediaKube LLC

We love this app because it has diagrams, definitions, and even sounds to prepare kids for procedures! My favorite is the MRI sounds feature. I can play the loud sounds for kids to prepare them for what to expect. I also love explaining the appendix with the diagram and drawing feature!

Simply Sayin' screen shot of stomach anatomy Simply Sayin' screen shot of MRI machine

Toca Doctor by Toca Boca AB

Patients are easily distracted and feel a sense of empowerment in “healing” the many ailments in this app. Kids enjoys pulling splinters, fixing broken bones, and brushing teeth in this app. Distraction for kids help kids cope better for painful procedures, and make procedures more efficient!

Youtube Kids

Child life specialists connect with patients and build rapport quickly to be an emotional support for families. Oftentimes, child life specialists support patient through painful procedures like IV starts, lac repairs, and dressing changes. Patients often feel less pain and discomfort when they can focus on something fun like Cocomelon or slime videos.

Expanding services

As specialists coming from children’s hospitals, the transition to Kaiser was challenging but so fruitful. Partnering with MCoE has allowed us to expand our services with our child life iPads, something that was never used at Anaheim in the past! The MCoE has made approving and downloading apps efficient and fun. Thank you MCoE!

Child life specialist services in Anaheim are available in Peds Hem/Onc, Pediatrics, and Emergency Department. To learn more about your child life team today, email or

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