What Is a Certified Child Life Specialist?

Infants, children and youth confront a wide variety of stressful and potentially traumatic events that can impact their ability to cope. These experiences related to healthcare can lead to feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control and isolation that can inhibit their development and have negative effects on their physical and emotional health and well-being.

In both healthcare and community settings, Certified Child Life Specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement.

They provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.

Mission, Values and Operating Principles


We, as child life professionals, help infants, children, youth, and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury and treatment. We provide evidence-based, developmentally-appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation and education to reduce fear, anxiety and pain.

Core Competencies


he child life competencies are the minimal level of acceptable practice as defined by the Association of Child Life Professionals, and are a guide for individuals or organizations who may wish to further define competencies specific to their situation.

Professional Standards of Practice


To help ensure patients and families receive high-quality care from Certified Child Life Specialists, the Association of Child Life Professional’s Child Life Certifying Committee administers the examination-based certification program and ongoing certification maintenance.

The Case for Child Life

Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events, and the importance of their services has been well documented. The following are just a few resources highlighting the need for child life services in hospitals and a variety of other settings.  

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Child Life
Evidence-Based Practice Statements on Child Life
How a Child Life Specialist Can Help You


Child Life Month

Please join ACLP and the many child life programs around the world in observing Child Life Month in March with special activities for your staff and local community. Start planning early, and take advantage of this incredible opportunity to honor and promote child life!

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There are great people and great organizations making a difference in the child life community every day.  To honor these outstanding leaders, the ACLP Board of Directors presents three separate awards each year during the ACLP Annual Conference on Professional Issues.

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