Who are Child Life Specialists?

Child life specialists are experts in child development, who promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. Child life specialists provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing many different challenging experiences, especially those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Understanding that a child’s well-being depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators and the general public about the needs of children under stress. Child life specialists have earned a minimum bachelor’s or master’s degree, with an educational emphasis on human growth and development, education, psychology or a related field of study. At St. Louis Children's Hospital our child life specialists are required to obtain the CCLS (Certified Child Life Specialist) credential, which is administered by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). All Certified Child Life Specialists must complete a supervised 600 hour clinical internship, pass a national certification examination, and adhere to continued professional development standards in order to maintain their certification.

~Adapted from the Association of Child Life Professionals Website

Child Life with a patient A child life patient

What are Some of the Services We Engage Patients and Families In?

  • Developmental Play
  • Therapeutic Play to Ease Anxiety
  • Medical Play
  • Normalization of Hospitalization, Hospital Environment and Routine
  • Diagnosis Specific Education
  • Preparation and Education regarding Healthcare Experiences including surgery and medical procedures
  • Distraction and Alternative Focus During Medical Procedures
  • Positions for Comfort
  • Sibling Support
  • Opportunities for Self Expression
  • Emotional Support
  • Facilitation of Peer Interaction and Support During Hospitalization
  • Bereavement Support
  • Advocation for Patient and Family
  • Coordination of Special Events, CCTV programming, and other entertainment to energize and engage.

For more information about Child Life Specialists please visit www.childlife.org