Child Life department and roles
Child life programs in medical facilities are a result of research that shows the 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 healthcare team.
The child life department at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics presently includes:
- Activities associates who have a background in child development or child psychology, with either two- or four-year degree. Their primary responsibility is to provide children with opportunities for play and activity that promote normal growth and development.
- Certified child life specialists (CCLS) who have 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 healthcare experiences in both inpatient and outpatient areas.
- Child life supervisor, who is a certified child life specialist, provides some of the staff supervision and support of department operations
- Department manager who has ultimate responsibility for the functioning of the department, including coordination with Child and Family Services senior director of personnel and financial and system-wide initiatives.