Free New Child Life Tool for Bettering Hospital Playrooms


I am thrilled to announce the release of a new tool for your child life toolkit. It is an assessment form to help you make your playroom the best it can be. There is a dream playroom in all of our imaginations. Time, space, budget constraints and infection control guidelines aside, we all know what we would provide children and families if we were able to do so. The  VIPAR (Vilas Playroom Assessment Rubric) is intended to present the best possible scenario, and to measure how your playroom is meeting the needs of all pediatric patients and families at your hospital. Child life specialists and administrators can use this rubric as a quality checklist to assess playroom design and operation.

This rubric is several years in the making and has been test driven by many Bank Street College alumni. They kindly tried it out in their playrooms and gave me feedback to improve the document, making it as accessible and flexible as possible.

Tara Horan reports that the rubric gave her staff  “feelings of empowerment to make positive changes.”

Kelsey Frawley shared, “Another AHA moment was the cultural competency piece. I think as specialist’s we are taught to BE culturally competent, not judge, ask questions, be aware of differences, but incorporating it into a room is something I have not thought of. The developmental appropriate piece really stuck out, it is something we have struggled with as a site and recently have committed to revamping.”

Kate Shamzad states ‘In fact, it inspired us to order a wall mirror to be installed in the infant/toddler section of the hem/onc room.”

I owe them and others many thanks for their input. But the VIPAR is and should be a work in progress. So please give me feedback if you use it at

It is pretty easy to use. Score each category based upon observation and investigation. Add together the 18 category scores to reach a total. Use the key at bottom of rubric to interpret total score.

It can be helpful to underline or highlight specific items to be improved within each category. Once a score is obtained, determine which improvements are within your department’s ability to improve. Set goals and deadlines for improvement. This rubric is not intended to make you feel that your playroom is substandard in any way. The hope is that it will guide you towards making some small or significant changes that will improve the quality of play available in your hospital.

Click below link to access and download the pdf.

VIPAR Vilas Playroom Assessment Rubric