Danielle Eaves - Child Life Specialist for Community PedsCare


Child Life Specialists are a fundamental aspect of our Pediatric and Hospice Care programs, working closely with patients, their families, and friends to enhance the quality of life for those dealing with life-altering illnesses.

We asked our Child Life Specialist, Danielle to share one of her favorite activities she facilitates with her patients, and how it helps enhance the lives of her patients every day.

Hi Danielle, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi. I'm Danielle Eaves, and I’ve been with Community PedsCare since my graduation from University of Florida in 2008. It’s been incredible to see our program grow to serve so many children and families over the last 15 years.

What is your favorite therapy to facilitate with PedsCare patients?

Child Life Specialists utilize the language children speak, which is play. I utilize medical play with our puppet who has the same equipment so patients and siblings can manipulate, process, and overcome their anxieties about their care and procedures. It is powerful to let them give someone else “shots” or “give medicine” through a port a catheter or a feeding tube. It allows for autonomy and control and helps the adults to understand what their perception is and to identify any misconceptions or anxieties we can overcome.

How do you facilitate this therapy?

My medical play sessions consist of my puppet, actual medical supplies, and models of MRI machines or toy ambulances and doctor figurines. While playing, the child can prepare for upcoming procedures or decompress from stressful events they’ve experienced. I’ve seen children as young as one year old engage in medical play from pushing a toy ambulance and making noise to older children “operating on” the puppet, learning coping skills to address needle anxiety, or practice “feeding” through a gastronomy tube.

I include our PedsCare patients, siblings, parents, stuffed animals, action figures and often their family pets who all serve as “patients.” We provide this expressive outlet for the children to experience autonomy and control, which is often limited in real life due to the seriousness of the medical condition. So many things are done “to” our kiddos that this gives them the opportunity to “do” it to others for a change.

What are you trying to achieve when facilitating this therapy?

While play itself is therapeutic in nature, our medical play sessions are goal-driven to provide developmentally appropriate education, outlets for self-expression, learn coping skills, and provide for autonomy and control.

Where do therapies fit within the Community PedsCare program?

Our patients enrolled in PedsCare have chronic or complex medical conditions so medical play is a perfect fit for that hands-on learning and outlet to work out fears and questions.

What brings you the most satisfaction when working with a patient and their family?

I feel one of the highest honors is when a child says “Come play with me!” It is a sacred place to be invited into their world.

Why do you enjoy being a Child Life Specialist?

I’m a proud child life specialist when my patients are able to demonstrate mastery over their medical condition. Sometimes this is overcoming a stressful experiences like an MRI without sedation or being able to play out something they previously wouldn’t want to discuss. Medical play gives children the control to write their own narrative while desensitizing the frightening experiences.


Meet Our Child Life Specialists

Click below to read the bios of other Child Life Specialist at Community Hospice & Palliative Care.