Our Clinical Team: Erica Ballou, MS, CCLS – Intake Coordinator

Erica Ballou is a Certified Child Life Specialist who completed her bachelor’s degree in Human Growth and Development and her master’s degree in Child Life and Family Centered Care from Wheelock College. Erica completed her internships at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI, and The SPARK Center in Mattapan, MA. Erica spent nine years volunteering at Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, in Casco, ME, prior to her work at Team IMPACT. Erica is an animal lover and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Erica joined the Team IMPACT staff in 2019 and serves as our Intake Coordinator. In her role, she is the first touchpoint families have with Team IMPACT. We sat down with Erica to hear about her experience as a child life specialist and how she uses her clinical skills to guide families through the earliest stages of their involvement with Team IMPACT.

Through my work at Camp Sunshine and growing up with a friend who had a chronic medical diagnosis, I found the world of Child Life and a career that allows me to connect with and support families in a meaningful way.

I have always been drawn to supporting children and families in the community as an extension of their support from the hospital. This is exactly what drew me to Team IMPACT. Child Life is not just about the child but is also about supporting the entire family. At Team IMPACT, I connect with families every day and provide them with a therapeutic and fun opportunity to build a relationship with a team and have an entire community of support while managing their child’s medical diagnosis.

As an Intake Coordinator, I conduct a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment with the family to determine eligibility for our program and to assess each child’s needs in identifying the best team environment for them. I utilize my child life education and clinical skills every day as I educate families about the program, help identify the best timing for their child, and make recommendations for team selection based on their child’s social, emotional, medical, and sensory needs.

When talking with families, they are excited to hear that each relationship has clinical support in place to help guide them through their match. Families that have been able to work closely with the social workers and child life specialists in the hospital setting really see the value in having that clinical support at Team IMPACT.

From getting to know a child and family’s needs and finding the right team environment to ongoing social and emotional education and support, facilitating and supporting healthy communication, providing meaningful and developmentally appropriate ways to connect, and so much more, the clinical staff at Team IMPACT is built to support families and teams at every stage of their experience.

Being a child life specialist at Team IMPACT allows me to support children and families through their medical journey from outside the hospital walls. The misconception about child life in any setting is that we are just there to have fun and play, but the reality behind every aspect of child life work is providing therapeutic interventions in developmentally appropriate ways. Play is the language of children — it is how they learn, develop skills, and understand the world around them. We may not be educating a child about an upcoming medical procedure like in a hospital setting, but we are using the camaraderie of team to work on therapeutic goals and skills that can help our kids feel supported and more confident in and out of the hospital. Being matched with a college athletic team is exciting and cool, but there is so much more happening on a therapeutic level, which makes being a child life specialist at Team IMPACT so special.