During the 1990s, when a financial crisis developed, hospital restructuring and cost-containment initiatives reduced the number of child life specialist positions, shortened lengths of stay, increased outpatient visits, and increased home care and hospice programs for children. In response, the CLC developed the Vision-to-Action strategic planning process. A representative group of child life professionals was elected by the general membership to study how the profession was to move forward into the 21st century. Their recommendations were brought to the membership at the 1996 conference in Albuquerque for discussion and action.
Today, child life professionals work and influence the delivery of care in both healthcare and community settings. Certified Child Life Specialists work in pediatric in-patient units including critical care units, and in outpatient areas including emergency departments, radiology and imaging, specialty care clinics, and behavioral and rehabilitation facilities. They also work in other settings such as community outreach programs, private practice, hospice services, home health, camps for children with healthcare needs, private medical and dental practices, and services to children of adult patients. Child life specialists continue to help infants, children, youth, and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury and treatment.
View a video celebrating the past 40 years of child life here!