Department of Family Studies and Community Development
Child life specialists help children cope with stressful medical experiences. By providing appropriate services and promoting family-centered care, they attend to the emotional and developmental needs of children and their families. Child life specialists utilize a number of methods to promote effective coping including, but not limited to, engaging the child in therapeutic and recreational play, helping prepare patients and their families for medical procedures or admissions, and providing emotional support to patients and their families.
In the Department of Family Studies and Community Development, we offer a track that provides courses to meet the needs of future child life specialists. Our Child Life Advisory Board helped develop the track. It consists of members from Johns Hopkins Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, Children's Hospital at Sinai, Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children, Children’s National Medical Center, and the University of Maryland Medical Center. A list of required courses can be found in the Child Life Track section of the Family and Human Services Degree Requirements page.
The Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential, issued by the Child Life Council, is the exclusive certification for this profession. Prior to sitting for the Child Life Certification Exam, applicants must meet three eligibility requirements.
1. Minimum of Baccalaureate Degree - Applicants must have either completed a bachelor’s degree, or be in the final semester of study for that degree.
2. Course Work - Applicants must have completed a total of 10 college-level courses in child life or a related department/subject. Departments/ subjects include: Child Life; Child, Family, or Human Development; Family Dynamics; Psychology; Counseling; Sociology; Therapeutic Recreation; Expressive Therapies; Death & Dying; Biomedical Ethics; Cultural Diversity (Courses in world religions do not fall into this category)
Courses from other subjects/ departments may be acceptable depending on content.
3. Clinical Child Life Experience - Applicants must have completed a minimum of 480 hours of child life clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist who meets specific qualifications.
For additional information, please visit the Child Life Council website
• Do you want a fun way to introduce family and friends to the child life profession? Read and share the poem, "What is Child Life," written by
Steve Slowinski, a former Child Life Intern at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.