Therapeutic and Developmental Support Services

Our goal is to provide quality comprehensive therapeutic and developmental support services to ensure our patients and families have access to appropriate developmental experiences and the tools necessary to cope, heal and thrive in a medical environment.

Contact information

Kelsey Mayer, MS, CCLS, Director of Therapeutic and Developmental Support Services

About Our Department

Our goal is to provide quality comprehensive therapeutic and developmental support services to ensure our patients and families have access to appropriate developmental experiences and the tools necessary to cope, heal and thrive in a medical environment.  All of our Child Life Specialists hold active certification through the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Our Services

Our Services Include:

The Child Life and Creative Arts program at Blythedale Children’s Hospital is dedicated to helping infants, children and their families cope through their medical journey. Our team of Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) are trained in the developmental impact of illness, injury, trauma and hospitalization. We offer interventions that help to ease a child’s adjustment and experience to a hospital setting and health status. Our CCLS use a variety of approaches such as procedural preparation and support, medical and therapeutic play, as well as emotional and developmental support to promote healthy coping behaviors.

developmental support therapist with babies

Blythedale understands the importance of addressing the unique social and developmental needs of medically complex children while hospitalized. Each unit has a dedicated team which strives to create nurturing environments and daily play experiences. Ensuring that each child has access to vital developmental experiences supporting overall health and wellbeing. 

The Music Therapy Program at Blythedale Children’s Hospital is offered through our Child Life Program. Using a variety of approaches to engage children in musical experiences, the program encourages and supports relaxation, pain relief, and emotional expression, as well as improved coping skills. Our Music Therapy program works on a referral basis and runs in conjunction with our Therapeutic Recreation Program. 

The Therapeutic Recreation Department provides both treatment and leisure services to inpatients, and serves to aid patients in their rehabilitative recovery through goal-oriented recreational activities. These activities are based on each child's individual preferences and abilities, and aim to restore and improve functional skills. The department’s goal is to facilitate the development, maintenance and expression of an appropriate leisure lifestyle for every patient.

therapists with child

Individualized bedside Therapeutic Recreation services are offered to patients who are unable to attend general recreation programming. Group programs are offered seven days a week. For more information, please contact Debbie Sicari.

If interested in a Spring Semester Internship please contact Jeannine Florio, MS, CCLS, Assistant Director of Child Life and Creative Arts at or (914) 592-7555, ext. 71498. *Please note, we follow the ACLP's internship application requirements and process.

For an internship with the Music Therapy Department, please contact Reissa Ress, MCAT at 

Therapeutic and Developmental Support Services Key Contacts

Profile photo for Kelsey Mayer, M.S., C.C.L.S.

Kelsey Mayer, MS, CCLS

Director of Therapeutic and Developmental Support Services

Profile photo for Debbie Sicari

Debbie Sicari

Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator

Treatments We Support

With the only dedicated post-acute pediatric brain injury unit in New York State - specifically constructed to treat children and adolescents with brain injuries - and our expertly trained clinical team, Blythedale is uniquely positioned to provide the best environment for recovery.

As technology continues to advance, children with special needs are becoming increasingly more integrated into the world around them. Blythedale's comprehensive Assistive Technology program, one of only a few such programs in New York State, is opening doors for these children.

Blythedale is the only specialty children’s hospital in New York State with the capability of providing the highest level of medical care and rehabilitation for children recovering from complex medical conditions, including childhood cancers.

Blythedale’s commitment to the highest level of medical and rehabilitative care, and ongoing integration of the newest cardiac support technologies for medically fragile children, is evident in our Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

As an expert in helping medically fragile children achieve their highest potential, Blythedale is well-suited to help transition a child with multiple complex chronic conditions from hospital to home.

For children recovering from multiple traumatic injuries, extensive orthopedic surgery or complex surgery, Blythedale offers a highly specialized, integrated approach to care.

Blythedale is a center of excellence in treating children with complex burns and wounds. The goal of the complex wound rehabilitation team is to obtain maximum autonomy and functionality while maintaining the optimal integrity of the healing wound or grafts with scar control.

Blythedale is widely recognized as a leader in treating children with rare conditions, spinal cord injury, neuromuscular disorders including muscular dystrophy and other myopathies, neuropathies, motor neuron diseases and neuromuscular junction disorders as well as complex genetic syndromes.

Blythedale has a commitment to achieving the best outcomes for infants coming for intensive rehabilitation following Neonatal Intensive Care stays. With a staff of full-time neonatologists overseeing the care our infants, and the addition of neonatal fellows, Blythedale continues to push the boundaries of what post-acute neonatal care can provide to medically fragile infants.

At Blythedale Children’s Hospital, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, pediatric attending staff supports infants, children and adolescents prior to and following complicated transplant procedures including heart, liver, kidney, bowel, and even multi-organ transplants.

Pulmonary hypertension is relatively rare, occurring in only two children per one million. Despite its low occurrence, Blythedale treated 30 children with pulmonary hypertension last year.

Blythedale’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program is widely recognized as a national center of excellence due to the Hospital’s extraordinary success weaning fragile infants and children from respiratory support machines for an improved quality of life. Our parent training programs help ensure that caregivers are both confident and competent in caring for their child.

As the only pediatric specialty hospital in New York State, Blythedale Children’s Hospital has the ability to evaluate and treat complex feeding difficulties in children with a team of pediatric specialists who work exclusively with medically fragile children.