The existence of child life programs in medical facilities has resulted from a researched need to provide developmental and emotional support to children as they cope with the stressful experiences inherent in illness, hospitalization, acute and chronic disease, and surgical procedures. The presence of illness has been shown to be a major disruptive force in the life of a child and family. In order to assist children in developing adequate, positive coping mechanisms, child life programs which utilize therapeutic play and educational activities, infant development and stimulation programs and adolescent activities are included as an integral component of the health care team.

The child life department at Children's Hospitals and Clinics presently includes:

  • Activities associate has a background in child development or child psychology, with either 2 or 4 year degree. Their primary responsibility is to provide children with opportunities for play and activity that promote normal growth and development.
  • Certified child life specialist (CCLS) has professional training in child development, human development, art therapy, psychology, family development or child life at the bachelor's or master's level. These specialists provide therapeutic, developmental and educational activities with a primary focus on helping children better understand and cope with their health care experiences in both inpatient and outpatient areas.
  • Department manager — has ultimate responsibility for the functioning of the department, including coordination with Child and Family Services manager or personnel, and financial, and system-wide initiatives.