Community Visitor Guidelines | Child Life Program
Call for more information:410-328-7440 410-328-7440
Community groups provide programming and visitations that brighten the day of our children and families. To help your group plan an effective and enjoyable visit for our children, we ask that you observe the following guidelines.
Planning Your Group's Visit to UM Children's Hospital
- The Child Life Department must screen, approve and schedule community visitor groups and their programs a minimum of two weeks in advance. See the application for more information.
- Community groups must be accompanied by a Child Life team member throughout the visit.
- Because of space limitations, group size is limited to six people.
- Due to hospital routines, we can accommodate community visitors Monday - Friday from 12:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Evening visits are available on a limited basis, and, unfortunately, we are not able to host visiting groups on weekends.
- Children in the hospital range in age from newborn to young adult. Please be prepared to work with children of all ages and ability levels.
- 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. Groups planning a performance may want to plan for no longer than 30-45 minutes.
- The content of your 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 (e.g., 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.
- If your group plans to bring a costumed character or mascot, 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. Costumed characters should not hold children. Costumed characters with hands covered, and therefore unable to follow the hospital's hand hygiene routine, will not be allowed in patient rooms. They can wave from the doorway. Costumes that are registered/copyrighted will not be allowed without proof of designer's consent.
Health and Safety
- If any group member has been ill within the last 48 hours, we ask that person 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. When scheduled during flu season, all members of the group must present proof that they received the flu vaccine.
- Because of the risk of infection and because the hospital environment is often frightening for young children, community groups with children under the age of 16 are not allowed. If your group includes children, speak with Child Life staff regarding service projects young children could work on outside of the hospital setting.
Privacy and Media Coverage
- 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. Only Polaroid pictures that remain with the child are allowed.
- Do not exchange phone numbers, addresses or social media contacts with children.
- Visits will occur in public spaces only. If appropriate, professional entertainers and celebrities may visit children in their rooms as long as the child and family agree.
- Although media coverage 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.
Gifts and Donations
- 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 that want to bring gifts or favors to provide enough for all children (plan for 60). If your group is unable to provide enough items for all children, we can coordinate a time for you to drop off the donations, which will be used as gifts for events such as bingo prizes and birthday gifts.
- Donated items not as appropriate for use with children or donated in larger quantities than we can distribute and store may be used for fundraising purposes. The proceeds will go toward the Child Life Program.
- Please no "gently used" items. All gifts must be new. In particular, older stuffed animals collect germs that pose a risk of infection.
- For groups who wish to distribute treats, no homemade food, popcorn or food containing nuts may be given to children. Individually wrapped, store-bought treats may be appropriate. If you choose to bring food, please include a supply of non-food treats for those children with dietary restrictions. Please coordinate any food with the Child Life staff prior to your visit.
- Only Mylar balloons are allowed. Latex balloons have the potential for severe allergic reactions and the risk of choking accidents.
On the Day of Your Group's Visit
- Visitors should dress in a casual but professional manner. Shorts, mini-skirts, halter tops, and torn jeans are not permitted. In general, clothing should be well fitting but loose enough to allow for moving around. Avoid perfume and colognes.
- 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 and Baltimore Streets. 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. See directions to the medical campus. All groups must check in at the Information Desk in the main lobby and obtain visitor badges.