During their visit to the center, children and families have the opportunity to work with certified child life specialists and child life assistants as well as participate in various activities and programs.
Child life specialists reduce children’s anxiety in stressful situations (such as a visit to a CAC) and increase their confidence through play, developmentally appropriate education, coping tools, empowerment, and self-expression.
ChicagoCAC is fairly unique among CACs in having on-site child life staff to assist with family visits. With a strong background in child development and family systems, the child life team strives to promote effective coping and development through play, preparation, planned coping methods, and self-expression activities.
Child life specialists encourage children to engage in activities of their choice. This provides a fun, safe and supportive setting so children feel at ease and more confident during their visit. Additionally, the child life team helps children understand the different parts of their forensic interview and therapy appointments. By providing children with developmentally-appropriate information, therapeutic play opportunities, and activities and interventions that promote self-expression and enhance effective coping, children can gain a sense of control over their experiences and build resilience.
With the help of child life students and volunteers, the team facilitates special programs to further nurture and support families visiting the center. Please feel free to check back for available volunteer opportunities here.
- Canine Companionship – volunteers from Canine Therapy Corps come to the center throughout the week to provide pet therapy for families.
- Music Magic -musically-trained volunteers come to the center weekly to engage with the children in a variety of ways. Children are given the choice of listening to our volunteers play music, being taught how to play the instruments or simply exploring on their own. This type of exposure to music strengthens attention and focus, reduces anxiety and enhances creative self-expression.
- Play Groups – led by the child life team and volunteers, our monthly play groups offer therapeutic activities that encourage creativity and promote family bonding and optimal development. All ChicagoCAC families are encouraged to participate.