What Is Child Life?
A Child Life Specialist is a pediatric health care employee who works with children and families to help them cope with the challenges a child’s illness, hospitalization, or other stressful issues. They work in hospitals, clinics, dental offices, hospice, camps or community intervention programs for children with special health care needs to provide information, support, and guidance to the families. Child Life Specialists also work with children, often using play activities, to teach them what to expect and how to express themselves when the going gets rough. The field and designation were created to meet a growing need for specialists in this area.
Child Life Specialist training is typically at the Bachelor’s degree level with some universities offering specific majors in Child Life. But, degrees in other fields may be acceptable, like degrees in early childhood education, primary education, child development, or psychology. Online degree and certification programs are becoming more available. Almost all positions in this field require the applicant to hold a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) accreditation approved by the Association of Child Life Professionals. So, if you like to work with children, you feel that helping children and families in need is your calling, and think you can handle sometimes emotionally charged situations, check out this growing field. Job titles that you’ll see are Child Life Specialist and Child Life Therapist.