A child life specialist (CLS) is a professional trained in child development, family systems or a related field. Child life specialists serve infants, children, youth and families in a variety of settings. Typically, child life professionals work with children before, during or after a stressful life event, such as hospitalization, and primarily work in hospitals or health related environments. As the profession grows, child life is expanding into non-traditional settings such as camps, non-profits, and dental offices.
A CLS promotes healing through play and advocacy. As play is the primary language of children, the CLS uses tools such as toys, games and crafts to help children understand and cope with their unique experiences. Child life specialists provide resources to help support children and families through education, diagnosis teaching, preparation and procedural support. Supporting the developmental process in children, CL professionals promote various forms of play to help children understand their surroundings, cope with their experiences, and socialize with peers.
For more information about the child life profession, please visit the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) website http://www.childlife.org/
This video from the Child Life Council illustrates the impact of child life services at a regional hospital: