Support for the whole family

Parents and adult caregivers

Our child life specialists and creative arts therapists play an important role in helping families cope with the hospital experience. While treatment focuses on the patient, child life specialists and the creative arts therapists address the needs of the whole family. For the whole family, it may be helpful to:

  • Keep home routines and caregivers as consistent as possible
  • Plan family time for siblings to share feelings and ask questions
  • Keep teachers and day care providers informed
  • Expect some acting-out behaviors

Sibling support

Brothers and sisters are encouraged to visit in the hospital. Our child life specialists are available to provide preparation in advance of a visit, especially if the situation may be frightening or difficult for siblings to understand. Child life specialists can help siblings to cope by providing specific developmentally-appropriate activities.While in the hospital brothers and sisters may:

  • Visit the bedside of the patient
  • Create "buddy cloth dolls" or banners for the patient's room
  • Participate in bedside and/or playroom activities as possible dependent upon the child's condition and infection guidelines
  • Create books about being a brother or sister
  • Participate in hospital-wide group programming such as Open Art Studio and Art on the Plaza to help normalize their experience

Activities to help siblings at home may include:

  • Creating photo posters and cards for the patient's hospital room
  • Making videotapes or audiotapes of favorite stories and songs
  • Completing an "All About Me" poster to hang in the patient's room
  • Communicating by email or cards 

Sibling care

Children's Wisconsin offers a special place for brothers and sisters of patients. Siblings can participate in age-appropriate activities to help them cope with their brother or sisters’ health care needs.

Playroom of Hope

Designed with input from our child life specialists and creative arts therapies team, our Playroom of Hope sibling care room offers toys, art activities and games. Additionally, siblings can tuck themselves away with a good book in one of several reading nooks, or the quiet room where they can meet one-on-one with a child life specialist or an art or music therapist by request.

Sibling care FAQ’s

  • Open for siblings between the ages of 2-12 years
  • Children must be toilet trained to participate in sibling care programming; diapering is not provided
  • Children are checked in and out by the same parent or guardian
  • Reservations can be made for the following time slots (availability varies based on staffing and capacity):
    • 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
    • 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    • 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Siblings are allowed a maximum of two 90 minute visits per day

For more information about Sibling Care, call (414) 266-3908.

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