Skip to content

Child Life Emphasis

Illness, injury, and health care are inherently distressing experiences for most children, adolescents and families. Psychological problems related to childhood illness, injury and treatment include increased juvenile delinquency, lower reading scores, more negative ratings from authority figures, and greater prevalence of reported psychiatric disturbance in middle childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Awareness of the potential for negative emotional effects caused by illness, injury and health care experience has led to an increased concern for the psychosocial aspects of pediatric care. In response to this concern one of the unique pediatric disciplines that has developed  is the profession of Child Life Specialist.  Child Life Specialists, or CLS for short, are certified members of the health care team who focus on the developmental, emotional, social, and health care education needs of pediatric patients and families. Relying on creative forms of play and other age-appropriate interactions, child life professionals seek to reduce the stress of health care experiences and enable children, adolescents and families to cope effectively with illness, injury and treatment.

Majoring with the Child Life Emphasis or taking a variety of child life courses is appropriate for anyone who may work in
a healthcare setting with children.  We strongly encourage students who are Pre-Medicine, Pre-Physicians Assistant, Pre-
Nursing, Pre-Occupational Therapy, Pre-Physical Therapy, etc., to speak with an academic advisor about the major or at least taking some of the the Child Life Courses. 

For those who have chosen Child Life for a career you will need to do the following to become a Certified Child Life Specialist:

  • Complete specific course work provided in the Family, Community and Human Development major with Child Life Emphasis.
  • Be chosen for and successfully complete an internship at a hospital endorsed by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP for short - Formerly Child Life Council).  Many hospitals are now requiring the completion of a Child Life Practicum before you are eligible to apply for an internship.  Be sure to keep this in mind when making your academic plans with your advisor.
  • Have your Bachelor's Degree, Child Life Course work, and Internship verified by the ACLP.
  • Pass the Child Life Professional Certification Examination

Major Requirements


More information can be found here:

Association of Child Life Professionals (formerly Child Life Council)

How to Become Certified

The Child Life Profession

American Academy of Pediatrics
John Hopkins Magazine—Child Life Article





Last Updated: 2/2/22