The Scope and Future Direction of Child Life

Child life specialists work in a variety of healthcare settings and help children and families to cope with stress through play, preparation, and education. The purpose of this study was to examine the current scope of child life practice. Child life specialists (N = 147), recruited through the listserv of the Association of Child Life Professionals (formerly the Child Life Council), responded to an online survey that examined demographics, work environments and settings, the range of services provided, and perceived levels of competence in providing these services. Results indicate that the typical child life professional is a Caucasian female age 34 years, has a bachelor’s degree in child life or human development and family studies, is employed full-time in a children’s hospital as a certified child life specialist, and has 9 years of experience in the child life field. Respondents indicated that they perform a wide range of activities and feel competent in performing the majority of these activities. However, gaps in academic preparation such as more knowledge about death and dying and increased skills in working with diverse families were identified. Additionally, respondents felt supported, yet, a lack of awareness of child life persists. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Child life specialists work in a variety of healthcare settings and help children and families to cope with stress through play, preparation, and education. The purpose of this study was to examine the current scope of child life practice. Child life specialists (N = 147), recruited through the listserv of the Association of Child Life Professionals (formerly the Child Life Council), responded to an online survey that examined demographics, work environments and settings, the range of services provided, and perceived levels of competence in providing these services. Results indicate that the typical child life professional is a Caucasian female age 34 years, has a bachelor’s degree in child life or human development and family studies, is employed full-time in a children’s hospital as a certified child life specialist, and has 9 years of experience in the child life field. Respondents indicated that they perform a wide range of activities and feel competent in performing the majority of these activities. However, gaps in academic preparation such as more knowledge about death and dying and increased skills in working with diverse families were identified. Additionally, respondents felt supported, yet, a lack of awareness of child life persists. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

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