Research Awards

Annually, the ACLP presents two research recognition awards that celebrate research initiatives that contribute to theory and practice within the field of child life.

The Professional Research Recognition Award honors significant work by a child life specialist and the Student Research Recognition Award acknowledges research conducted by a student.


In order to be considered for an ACLP Research Award, the nominated research project must:

  • Address a facet of child life

  • Have met Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements prior to data collection

  • Have at least one author who is an ACLP member in good standing

  • Research must have been completed and submitted for publication within the last two years*

*For the Student Research Award, research must have been submitted within the last two years while the primary author was still a student. Completion date and unofficial transcripts are a part of the application.


Applications will be reviewed by the ACLP Awards Committee which will utilize the following criteria when scoring:

  • The research increases child life knowledge or improves/evaluates child life interventions, processes and/or programming.

  • The research was designed and conducted under rigorous standards and was appropriately analyzed.

  • The research is evidence-based.

  • The research is innovative and relevant to child life practice.



We encourage individuals in the child life community to submit their research and to share news of the award with peers who may be interested in applying.

Applications for the 2024 Research Awards will be open from February 1 - 15, 2024. Winners will be notified by  mid-March 2024.

2024 Student Research Award Application

2024 Professional Research Award Application

2024 Professional Award Winners

There was a tie for the 2024 Professional Research Award Winners. The two winning manuscripts are:

Being a Child Life Student Has Definitely Been Difficult”: A Mixed Methods Study Exploring the Experiences of Emerging Professionals
Journal of Child Life, Vol. 5, Issue 1, 2024
Jessika Boles, Sarah Daniels, Sherwood Burns-Nader, Belinda Hammond, Samantha Wilkins


Child Life Internship Readiness: Perspectives of Child Life Training Coordinators and Supervisors
Journal of Child Life, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2023
Cara Sisk, Kathryn Cantrell, Brittany Wittenberg Camp

2024 Student Award Winners

There was a tie for the 2024 Student Research Award Winners. The two winning manuscripts are:

Fitting the Pieces Together”: The Experiences of Caregivers of Children With Medical Complexity
Hospital Pediatrics, Volume 13, Issue 12, December 2023
Elise Hirt, Alyssa Wright, Allysa Kehring, Yinuo Wang, Vanessa Torano, Jessika C. Boles

Legacy in pediatrics: A Concept Analysis
Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 80, Issue 3, March 2024
Briana Keller, Terrah Akard, Jessika C Boles

Previous Award Winners