Community Visitor Guidelines - Child Life Program

Call for appointment:

410-328-7440 410-328-7440

Thank you for your interest in visiting the University of Maryland Children's Hospital. Community groups play an important part in brightening children's hospital stays and provide a link to home for many children and families. To help your group plan an effective and enjoyable visit for our children, we ask that you observe the following guidelines.

  • All community groups planning to have patient contact are screened in advance to determine the appropriateness of the visit for hospitalized children. Community visitors must be screened, approved and scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance by the Child Life Department. See cover letter and application for more information.

  • Community groups must be accompanied by a Child Life team member throughout the visit. 

  • Due to the nature of the hospital environment and our space limitations, group size is limited to 6 people. Based on the hospital routine and regularly scheduled programming, visits will be scheduled to occur Monday - Friday between the hours of 12:30pm-6:30pm. Evening visits are available on a limited basis. We are unable to accommodate weekend visits due to other program routine.

  • Children in the hospital range in age from newborn to young adult. Please prepare your visit appropriately for the ages and ability levels of the children. Children in hospitals frequently have limited attention spans and stamina. Please be aware that children may need to come and go during your activity or performance, at times leaving a small group. For example, you may start with 1 child and end with a group of 6. Groups planning a performance may want to plan for no longer than 30-45 minutes.

  • Content of presentation must be appropriate for children from a variety of backgrounds. Content should be religiously and politically neutral, and should not deal with emotionally threatening themes (i.e., illness, death, alcohol/drugs, separation, sexual innuendos). Keep this in mind with gifts, pamphlets, t-shirts and other items distributed or worn by the group.

  • Children who are recovering from an illness or surgery are susceptible to contagious illnesses. If any group member has been ill within the last 48 hours, we ask that they not visit. Examples of illnesses include: fever, colds, unexplained rashes, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or exposure to chicken pox, mumps, or measles. Community visits are more restricted during flu season for the safety of children and families in the hospital as well as the safety of community visitors. If a community visit is scheduled during flu season, all members of the community visitor group must be able to present proof that they received the flu vaccine.

  • Due to the risk of respiratory or other infections, community groups containing young children are not allowed. In addition, the hospital environment is typically frightening for young children. Due to the confidentiality of our patients, we are unable to explain tubes or equipment to alleviate their fears. Therefore, if your group contains children under 16 years of age, we ask that you speak with Child Life staff regarding service projects young children could work on outside of the hospital setting.

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires us to respect patient confidentiality and privacy. Please refrain from asking children, families or staff to share information related to the child's personal, psychosocial or medical needs. Photographs and videotapes may not be taken of children and their family members. Polaroid pictures that remain with the child are allowed. Your interest and concern for the children at UMCH must be limited to the hospital visit. Please do not exchange phone numbers or addresses with children.

  • Visits will occur in public spaces only out of respect for each child and family's right to privacy. If appropriate, professional entertainers and celebrities may visit children in their rooms as long as the child and family agrees to the visit.

  • The community group will be responsible for providing all materials for the activity.

  • Plans for gifts should be coordinated with the Child Life staff. We ask groups wanting to bring gifts or favors to provide enough items for all children (plan for 60). All gifts must be new --no "gently used" items will be accepted as gifts for children. We understand if your group is unable to provide enough items for all children. In that case, we will coordinate a time for you to drop off the donation which will be used as gifts for hospital events such as bingo prizes and birthday gifts. 

  • Donated items not as appropriate for use with children and families in the hospital or donated in larger quantities than we can distribute and store, may be used for fundraising purposes with the proceeds going towards child life resources for children and families within the Children's Hospital.

  • Because of infectious disease concerns, we can only accept brand new stuffed animals. Older stuffed animals, even those sitting on shelves or recently washed, collect germs that pose a risk of infection to children who are ill or have struggling immune systems.

  • For those groups wishing to distribute food treats, please be aware that no homemade food, popcorn, or food containing nuts may be given to children. Store bought treats that are individually wrapped may be appropriate. If you choose to bring treats, please include a supply of non-food treats for those children with dietary restrictions. Please coordinate any food treats with the Child Life staff prior to your visit.

  • Only Mylar balloons are allowed; latex balloons are not allowed due to the potential for severe allergic reactions and the risk for choking accidents.

  • Although media coverage of an event may be appropriate in some cases, it can cause undue stress for children and families. Before inviting newspapers or TV stations to cover your visit, please discuss your plans with the Child Life staff. All media invitations or press releases must be coordinated with the hospital's Public Relations department at least two weeks in advance of the visit.

  • Visitors should dress in a casual but professional manner. Shorts, mini-skirts, halter tops, and torn jeans are not permitted. Keep in mind you may be sitting, standing or bending over. In general, clothing should be well fitting but loose enough to allow for moving around. Please avoid perfume and colognes.

  • If your community group is bringing a costumed character or mascot with your visit, please inform the Child Life staff per the application process. Break areas and dressing rooms can be arranged. The children should not see the character without the costume intact. For the safety of our patients, costumed characters should not hold children for photographs. Costumed characters with hands covered will not be allowed in patient rooms because the costume prevents them from following the hospital's hand hygiene routine. These characters would wave from the doorway. Costumes which are registered/copyrighted will not be allowed without proof of designer's consent.

  • Community groups should allow ample time for parking and walking to the hospital when arriving for their visit. Parking for community groups is available in the Grand Garage at the corner of Paca St. and Baltimore St. Parking is limited on the medical campus so we encourage community groups to carpool. A maximum of three parking vouchers for the Grand Garage will be available per community group. Directions to the medical campus can be found at . All groups must check in at the Information Desk in the main lobby and obtain visitor badges.