Psychiatry Inpatient Service Your Child's Hospitalization

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ImageNo parent wants to see their child in the hospital. Our staff on the Inpatient Psychiatry Service (IPS) unit at Boston Children's Hospital are devoted to getting your child home as quickly as possible.

Treatment plan

Your child's treatment team will work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan designed to address the issues and symptoms that brought your child to the hospital. The treatment plan will likely include:

  • individual therapy
  • group therapy
  • family therapy
  • medication evaluation (if necessary)

There may be other components of your child's treatment, depending on the reason for admission, including consultation with a dietician or with other medical specialists. In addition, the team will assess your child's need for follow-up in outpatient care after they are discharged and work to connect you and your child with these services before discharge.

Long term outlook

Before your child can go home, they must show a decrease in the symptoms that brought them to the hospital and an improved ability to cope with their illness. Both you and your child must have a clear plan about how to manage at home, how to address safety issues and what to do if your child's symptoms return.

Please remember that your child's stay on the IPS unit is meant to help stabilize them while in crisis and to give you and your child some skills to cope if their symptoms get worse in the future. While a stay on the IPS unit may be a critical part of your child's treatment, it is just one piece of an ongoing process.



Children eat meals together, family style, with IPS staff  at Boston Children's Hospital. There is usually one meal selection but some children on special diets have meals sent up on trays. It's important that parents make staff aware of any special dietary requirements your child may have.

Snacks also are offered three times a day. We encourage healthy food choices and prohibit any caffeinated drinks on the unit.




Medication can be a valuable tool for the treatment of symptoms such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, insomnia and agitation. However, not every child treated on the IPS unit at Boston Children's Hospital receives medication. Your child's treatment team may recommend medication if they feel it could decrease your child's symptoms or provide some relief for their distress. The doctor will talk with you about the possibility of using medication as a part of your child's treatment and review medication actions and potential side effects with you.

Boston Children's has a dedicated Psychopharmacology Clinic to assist clinicians and families in determining whether medication might be a beneficial addition to a child's treatment plan.

Medications are not ordered without informed consent from parents. The only time a child could receive medication without parental consent would be in an emergency situation and you would be notified as soon as possible.

Learn more about commonly prescribed psychiatric medications.




During the week, children on the IPS unit at Boston Children's Hospital have a structured day. Their schedule provides time for school, groups and individual and family therapy. Special arrangements for visiting can be made to accommodate parents' schedules or to coordinate a visit with a planned family meeting.

Daily Schedule


6:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.

Wake up. Monitor vital signs. Get ready for the day.

8 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Breakfast. Community meeting to review goals and plan for the day.

9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

School. (There is a short break at 10 a.m.)

12 p.m. - 1 p.m.


1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Therapeutic groups. Individual or family therapy sessions may be scheduled during this time.

5 p.m. - 6 p.m.


6 p.m. - Bedtime

Free time. Relaxing evening group.

6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Visiting hours. Each Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. there is a family night activity.

8:30 p.m.

Bedtime for school-aged children.

9:30 p.m.

Bedtime for adolescents.

Weekend Schedule

Weekends are less structured to give your child some time to rest after a busy week and to spend more time with family. There are several groups offered between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends but your child may choose to spend time with family instead of attending groups




A clinician from Boston Children's Hospital will meet with your child several times each week to build a relationship with them, gain some insight and understanding of your child's issues and develop a plan for treatment.

The clinician will also assess your child and make recommendations for medications if necessary.

Family therapy

Your involvement is critical to your child's treatment. You have the greatest understanding of how your child responds to stress and what has been helpful in the past.

You are asked to bring any medical records and psychiatric or school testing (if available) to the first family meeting. It is also a good idea to write down any questions or suggestions you might have pertaining to your child's treatment.

You will be asked to attend at least two family meetings per week. These meetings provide an important opportunity for the family to improve communication, identify stumbling blocks to getting along and plan for changes at home.

Clinicians will usually meet first with the parent(s) alone and then have the child join for the second part of the meeting. Some children may become upset during these meetings if sensitive issues are addressed and may need to leave meetings for a time to calm down before returning. The staff on the unit will support children so they may return to the family meeting as soon as possible 




Because children on the IPS unit at Boston Children's Hospital spend much of their day in classes, groups or appointments, visiting hours are limited during the week. Special exceptions may be made to accommodate specific scheduling needs or to coordinate visits with meals or family meetings.

Visiting hours

  • Weekdays: 6 p.m. -7:30 p.m.

  • Weekends: 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  • On Wednesday evenings, visiting is extended until 8 p.m. and there is a family night activity.

Visitor lists

Parents are asked to complete a visitor list to indicate the friends and family allowed to visit and also to point out people who are restricted from visiting. You can also indicate if you have concerns about restrictions in telephone and mail contact. A parent of the patient must supervise visitation of siblings or friends under 21.

Telephone use

There are two patient telephones on the unit:

  1. 617-355-8274 (for adolescents)

  2. 617-355-7101 (for school-age children)

To reach your child, you should call between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Telephone calls should be scheduled around meals and unit activities.

To reach your child's treatment team or a staff person on the unit, please call 617-355-7721. You should feel comfortable calling the office at any time to share concerns or if you cannot reach your child.

Pastoral/religious visits

Pastoral services can be arranged through the hospital for persons of all denominations but many families arrange for someone from their own church to visit.


As your child's treatment on the unit progresses, they may be eligible for planned passes off the unit.

Time off the unit is important in helping you and your child develop skills and comfort in being together outside of IPS. You and your child may be given "assignments" by your treatment team to practice during your time off the unit. Passes or "leaves of absence" can vary from a 15-minute walk off the unit to a few hours at home. Passes are planned with the treatment team.


The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944