What Does a Child Life Specialist Do? - Video

A Child Life Specialists works with families and children to help them prepare for and manage the hospitalization process. They have a background in child development and at minimum, a bachelor's degree in psychology, development or another related field.

Job Description and Daily Duties

A Child Life Specialist works closely with families and children to prepare them for the process of hospitalization. Some Child Life Specialists also help individuals deal with other emotional and stressful life events. They are viewed as health care professionals and are there to educate and prepare children through difficult procedures or tests. They can also be on hand to counsel during times of stress and anxiety due to chronic or acute illnesses or the recovery process.

Typical Work Setting

Child Life Specialists typically work in hospitals. In fact, nearly each children's hospital in the country has some kind of child life staff. A CLS will work daily with families and child patients as well as physicians and other health care personnel. They may work in an office setting, bringing family members in to educate them about their child's need or the stresses of hospitalization. They may also work in a patient's hospital room, providing emotional support through play, education and other activities.

How to Get Certified

Child Life Specialists need a bachelor's degree in child development, psychology or related field. There are colleges that offer specific Child Life Specialist programs or similar master's degrees as well. In order to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, students must complete the certification program sponsored by the Child Life Council. This program includes 480 hours of a clinical internship and a passing score on the national certification exam. After becoming certified, Child Life Specialists must maintain continued professional development throughout their career to keep their certification.

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