Changes to the 2022 and 2025 Academic Requirements

Rescinding the Master's Degree Requirement

For several years, the strategic plan has outlined opportunities to evolve the child life profession and elevate credibility. This year several initiatives moved to the next level of investigation. The process offered additional clarity regarding accreditation and the certification standards.  Included as one of the top priorities for several years has been to further legitimize the Child Life Professional Certification Program through accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  This body accredits credentialing programs in a process analogous to certification. 

Through this ongoing pursuit, we now have greater clarity around credentialing industry standards and evidence-based practices. To maintain the credibility of the CCLS credential, it is imperative that the certification program demonstrate its integrity through policies and procedures that are both defensible and evidence-based.

Learning more about NCCA accreditation has made the ACLP Board of Directors aware that the Child Life Certifying Committee (CLCC) cannot be under undue influence with regards to its decisions/policies and requirements for certification-related activities. As such, CLCC will be formally recognized as a Commission with authority over all essential certification decisions pending the proposed Bylaws revision on which the ACLP membership will vote in Spring 2018.

Perhaps most significant in this new understanding is the recognition that the decision that led to the 2022 and 2025 eligibility requirements should have been made by CLCC through an evidence-based process (i.e., Job Analysis)

It was with the best of intentions that the decision to require a master’s degree was made.  However, the reason behind this decision was in part to advance the profession, which is the responsibility of the association, not its credentialing program. The primary purpose of a credentialing program is the protection of the public through the establishment of a minimum standard for competence based on evidence of current practice.

In order to preserve the credibility of our certification program, we must constantly strive to use commonly accepted, evidence-based practices and ultimately achieve NCCA accreditation. Thus, the 2013 board motion to enact the master’s degree requirements for certification eligibility in 2022 and 2025 has been rescinded.

The ACLP Board remains solid in its recommendation to CLCC to require a master’s degree in recognition that advanced education and applied skill sets have surfaced as necessary components for success. Knowing this, the CLCC is conducting initial investigations to determine whether/how an advanced level credential might rely on a master’s degree as a foundational requirement and will keep the ACLP membership and Board apprised of its investigations and recommendations.

The 2019 eligibility requirements stand firm and will go into effect on January 1, 2019 because they originated with CLCC.   Along with our credentialing partner, CLCC will conduct a Job Analysis in 2018.  One objective of this activity is to determine what eligibility requirements are appropriate beyond those set for 2019. 

The CLCC will continue to pursue credentialing industry best practices while the association looks to advance the profession through thoughtful marketing, greater outreach and public education, and innovative strategies identified during the next strategic planning meeting in late 2018.

As the child life profession and child life programs have continued to evolve over the past decade, many child life students have pursued advanced degrees and employers have established various mechanisms for requiring or recognizing advanced training and experience. New job titles and roles with expanded responsibilities as well as clinical ladders are increasingly common. ACLP supports the ongoing creation and growth of child life training and encourages clinical programs to consider both bachelor’s-prepared and master’s-prepared CCLSs as we further investigate models of clinical advancement programs that incorporate the unique value and skills at all levels of practice. Although not required for certification, interested individuals may elect to pursue a graduate degree in child life. At this point in time, a master’s degree is the terminal degree for child life professionals.

What can Academic Programs do for their students?
Apply for course requirement pre-approval.

Please send questions or feedback to the ACLP Board at