The Value of Child Life

Coping with illness, injury, and treatment is often challenging and stressful for children, adolescents, and their families. Certified Child Life Specialists provide therapeutic play, preparation for procedure, and education that reduce fear, anxiety, pain, and suffering for patients and their families. Studies show these child life services result in cost savings, including reduced length of stay, decreased sedation needs, and improved family satisfaction and ratings of overall experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the important role of the Certified Child Life Specialist, and U.S. News & World Report has recognized that expertise in child life is a vital variable in the success of pediatric care and a key quality indicator in hospital rankings.


Who Are Certified Child Life Specialists?

Certified Child Life Specialists are educated and trained in the developmental and psychological impact of illness and injury. They work in partnership with families, interdisciplinary healthcare teams, and community professionals within the evolving healthcare system to meet the psychosocial, emotional, and developmental needs of children and adolescents.

Certification by the Association of Child Life Professionals helps ensure a high level of competency in child life specialists to provide essential patient- and family-centered care.

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Child Life

A new AAP policy statement, “Child Life Services,” was published in the January 2021 issue of Pediatrics. It updates the AAP’s 2014 policy on child life with new data, research, and information about the value of child life and the continued expansion of child life services beyond inpatient hospitals.

Read the complete AAP policy statement on child life services.

Research in Support of Child Life

Value Proposition Front Cover-Full Report
Read the Full Report.
Read the Executive Summary.

The Value of Certified Child Life Specialists: Direct and Downstream Optimization of Pediatric Patient and Family Outcomes, is an evidence-based argument for the positive impact of child life services for youth, families, and organizations. References to outcomes associated with child life profession are dispersed across publication outlets, intervention types, and program models and our goal with this value proposition statement has been to pull that information together to clearly communicate the value of child life specialists. Read the Full Report of The Value of Certified Child Life Specialists: Direct and Downstream Optimization of Pediatric Patient and Family Outcomes or read the Executive Summary.

"Children who receive developmentally appropriate preparation and procedural support show significant decreases (upwards of 59%) in perceived, measured, and observed pain and distress and, in some cases, accelerated healing."

- The Value of Certified Child Life Specialists

The ACLP Patient Experience Committee worked in collaboration with the Beryl Institute to produce a white paper, What Patient Experience Can Learn from Child Life Professionals.

The paper explores the value and impact of child life efforts and the core philosophies of child life that could inform patient experience efforts more broadly. In the paper, contributors shared their insights and personal stories addressing the role of child life in patient and family experience overall and key philosophies of child life practice that can inform patient experience efforts. The paper includes an overview of seven concepts that can guide experience efforts and offers direct considerations for action relevant across healthcare settings.

The Beryl Institute Experience of Safety in Healthcare Cover

To purchase and download the white paper, visit The Beryl Institute's Store.

Thanks to The Beryl Institute's generosity, the white paper is free to all ACLP members. 
Click Here for Promo Codes

The Journal of Child Life: Psychosocial Theory and Practice
For several years, the Association of Child Life Professionals has been exploring the possibility of having a professional journal. This goal will become a reality when we launch The Journal of Child Life: Psychosocial Theory and Practice in March 2020 during Child Life Month. This new journal, with more robust research content, will be an outgrowth of Focus, which will no longer be a part of ACLP Bulletin in 2020.

ACLP members receive The Journal of Child Life: Psychosocial Theory and Practice as a benefit of membership. Non-members who are interested in receiving the journal may purchase individual issues or a subscription. For additional information, please contact the membership team at

 Each issue offers:

  • The latest research about children’s responses to stressful experiences and child life professionals’ work to support children’s ability to cope and grow through these challenges.
  • Articles on topics of interest to child life professionals and those who serve the psychosocial needs of children and families in health care and beyond.
  • Reviews of books relevant to professionals supporting children and families, social science researchers, and leaders in psychosocial care.
  • Timely pieces that address the unique challenges of professionals working in the quickly evolving health care industry.


"To play out is the most natural auto-therapeutic measure childhood affords. Whatever other roles play may have in the child's development...the child uses it to make up for defeats, sufferings, and frustrations."

-Erik Erikson,
 American developmental psychologist


Join the Association of Child Life Professionals

Become a member of ACLP as an individual Healthcare Ally. Consider a group membership for your Child Life Program or join as a Corporate Member.

Read Inspiring Stories

Child Life in Action