A child life specialist is a professional who is specially trained to help children and their families understand and manage challenging healthcare experiences. Child life specialists are skilled in providing developmental, educational and therapeutic interventions for children and their families under stress. Child life specialists support growth and development while recognizing family strengths and individuality, and respecting different methods of coping.
How to become a Child Life Specialist
In order to become a certified child life specialists (CCLS), you must first have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, with an educational background that includes human growth and development, education, psychology and counseling. You are also required to complete an internship program and a rigorous application and examination process.
Child life specialists are certified through a program administered by the Child Life Council (CLC). The requirements for certification are based on academic and internship experience and successful completion of an examination process. Certified child life specialists must recertify every five years but starting in 2005, all certificants may recertify by an application process involving professional development hours. Recertification by examination will still be an option to anyone who would prefer to re-test rather than submit 50 professional development hours.
There are a number of steps involved in becoming a CCLS.
- Read the candidate manual and complete the application.
- Meet the eligibility requirements.
- Minimum of a bachelor's degree
- Completed a total of 10 college-level courses within the specified areas
- Completed 480 hours of a child life internship or fellowship or paid clinical child life work experience under the supervision of a certified child life specialist
- Course Work Review: If certification applicants are not sure if their course work meets the eligibility requirements for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination, they may request a Course Work Review. Coursework Review involves submission of an application review form, course list and transcripts to CLC. Submitted transcripts will be reviewed to determine if specified courses fulfill the eligibility requirements.
- Pay Examination fees: Fees cover the development of the Child Life Professional Certification Examination and the costs involved in the applicant's specific administration (the room, the actual exam, testing agency service, processing the scores, etc.). Once certified, certified child life specialists are required to pay annual maintenance fees which fund some of the ongoing costs associated with the exam such as, accurate record keeping of those certified and communication about certification with certificants, applicants and the public.
- Take the examination.
For more information on becoming a child life specialist, visit www.childlife.org. The Web site also has an examination outline and practice test for potential CCLS to utilize.