Child Life in Action

Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education that support and reduce fear, anxiety and pain for children, adolescents and families. They work in partnership with families, interdisciplinary healthcare teams and community professionals within the evolving healthcare system to meet the psychosocial, emotional and development needs of children and adolescents.

Read Stories of Child Life in Action in Various Work Settings

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Listen to Conversations with Child Life Professionals

Child life professionals share their stories and talk about how they have adjusted and applied their unique skill set in innovative ways, in various work settings, during the coronavirus pandemic.

CLIA video - Meagan, Troy, Belinda
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP talks with Troy B. Pinkney-Ragsdale, CCLS, and Belinda Hammond, CCLS, two academic professionals, about online learning. They discuss the importance of organization, time management, networking, and collaboration with other students. Students are encouraged to share ideas with their instructors to enrich their online learning experience; to practice self care and take time away from the computer; to be educated consumers of online education and compare courses to find one that fits their learning style; and to explore new, alternative volunteer experiences that may be available. Access the list of organizations actively searching for virtual volunteers here. They caution students to be aware that not all practicums and internships accept online volunteer experience. See this time as an opportunity to take charge of your learning! Students may reach out to Meagan Roloff at with any questions they may have.  

300 x 200 CLIA video - Meagan, Debbie Spencer, Katie Bowlin
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Debbie Spencer, CCLS, and Katie Bowlin about how the pandemic has affected internships. Changes include adapting teaching methods and creating virtual clinical learning experiences. Don’t miss hearing about their innovative use of a robot for child life assessments and interventions, a workaround embraced by children and families. As a result of the determination, flexibility, and adaptability of both supervisor and student, Katie Bowlin, an advanced intern, was able to complete her internship virtually.
300 x 200 CLIA video - Meagan, Jessika Boles
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Jessika Boles, PhD, CCLS, about the research she's done that pushes the envelope of what we believe about children and what they can do in their healthcare experiences. For her dissertation, Jessika observed 3 children over a period of a 1 1/2 years. She led child life interventions including medical play, open-ended art activities, and group activities. She realized how acutely aware young children are of power dynamics and how that shapes communication in a healthcare setting. Jessika likes research that has given children a voice about their experiences and challenges popular beliefs about children's capacities and desire to be involved in their care. She is also very proud of leading the research team that produced the ACLP Value Proposition: The Value of Certified Child Life  Specialists: Direct and Downstream Optimization of Pediatric Patient and Family Outcomes that was published this year. Jessika discusses other research projects, including  ACLP's new Research Fellows program. Congratulations to Jessika for being named ACLP's first Chief Research Fellow!
CLIA Video - Meagan, Holly Wyatt, Karoline Radka
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Holly Wyatt, CCLS, and Karoline Radka, CCLS, - two new, early career Certified Child Life Specialists. They discuss the transition from being a student in child life to a professional and how current events are impacting their transition. They were both able to take the certification exam remotely proctored and earn their CCLS credential during the pandemic. Congratulations Holly and Karoline!
300 x 200 Meagan and Megan Ribbens
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Megan Ribbens, CCLS about living and working in Nigeria and South Africa. Megan discusses how she thought about the essence of child life - understanding child development, providing family-centered care, promoting expressive play, and empowering children - then applying those skills in international community settings. She also examines how her perceptions of race, power, and family constructs have changed by experiencing different cultural norms and she references the TED Talk given by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about "The Danger of a Single Story".
Meagan, Ellen Good, Christine Mace, Katie Stein
Part 2: Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, continues the discussion with Ellen Good, MSEd, CCLS, Christine Mace, MA, CCLS, and Katie Stein, CCLS. They discuss tactics that can influence receiving more impactful contributions from donors, how to effectively advocate for child life, and the importance of nurturing relationships with child life champions within the organization. 
Meagan, Ellen Good, Christine Mace, Katie Stein
Part 1: Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Ellen Good, MSEd, CCLS, Christine Mace, MA, CCLS, and Katie Stein, CCLS. They acknowledge Albert Einstein's observation: "In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity" and discuss strategies that child life programs might consider to not just survive, but thrive, in today's challenging and uncertain economic environment. Be proactive and advocate for child life. Become familiar with the needs of the organization and make a case, using measurable results, for how child life meets those needs. Identify, nurture, and build multidisciplinary alliances within the organization. Explore and pursue new opportunities for child life in the midst of uncertainty.
CLIA Video - Meagan, Rene Guilbeau, Alyssa Luksa, Diane Kaulen
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Rene Guilbeau, CCLS, Alyssa Luksa, CCLS, and Diane Kaulen, CCLS leaders on the ACLP Benchmarking Committee. This committee created the Child Life Professional Data Center (CLPDC) - a tool to help child life programs track and compare programmatic and capacity for patient impact data with others. They discuss the importance of communicating with hospital leaders and administrators in the language they understand, numbers and data. They encourage creating data-driven stories to demonstrate the value of child life and the impact it has on an organization's bottom line. They also encourage teams to continue data collection during the pandemic, creating a baseline of child life services during a national crisis. Questions may be directed to
CLIA Video-Meagan, Hannah Knott
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Hannah Knott, CCLS, about online learning in higher education. At Azusa Pacific University, instructional designers and media tech teams have helped transition in-person learning to online formats using video conferencing and other forms of technology that offer students the opportunity to connect, engage, and learn. Despite the bridge technology offers, online learning is not without challenges, particularly during a pandemic."We are not cognitively at our peak under stress." Hannah discusses the power of language to shape perception and notes that online education has the potential to increase diversity and access. Read The Right Way and The Wrong Way to Describe Online Teaching and Learning, the article referred to in the video.
CLIA video - Meagan, Katie, Eileen
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Katie Nees, CCLS, and Eileen Esposito, CCLS, from Child Life Disaster Relief (CLDR). They discuss CLDR’s new program 'Coping Through Connection' that is helping children and families get through the pandemic. These interactive virtual connection sessions provide a space for children and families to come together and normalize their experiences by sharing what's been hard for them and what works. They also provide some tips on virtual group facilitation. To learn more about this program, visit the Child Life Disaster Relief website.  
CLIA Video - Meagan, Dottie, Kimberly
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Dottie Barnhart, CCLS, Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Kimberly Jones, Project Coordinator, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. Kimberly has worked with Dottie on Trust-Based Relational Interventions (TBRI) - an attachment-based, trauma-informed effective intervention "for kiddos from hard places". How do you care for kiddos, understanding how trauma has affected their brains, their physical bodies, their belief systems about themselves, and their behavior? The TBRI toolkit gives caregivers a way to understand all of that and to respond differently - not react to their behaviors. Kimberly: "We say relationship is the intervention. Caregiving is what makes the difference." Learn more about TBRI at
COVID video - Megan, Rechelle, Divna
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Rechelle Porter, CCLS, and Divna Wheelwright, MA, CCLS, Co-Chairs of the ACLP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force.  They discuss their team's work in the creation of a DEI position statement for ACLP, the future state we aspire to create in the child life community through the language we use and the pathways to entry we create that will ensure the profession becomes more diverse and inclusive. Rechelle: "In the United States there are a lot of healthcare disparities...COVID-19 brought that to light even more, but it's always been part of our country's history." Divna: "To put it really bluntly, what we're seeing is essentially structural problems within the American system that are resulting in people of color being killed...What you're really seeing is racism in action."

Jen Lipsey with Meghan Kelly (2)
Part 1: Jen Lipsey, CEO, ACLP, talks with Meghan Kelly, CCLS, about her personal journey of being ill with COVID-19, in quarantine at home for 4 weeks, and surviving the illness. Meghan also talks about the impact the pandemic has had on her team and other colleagues at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, NY - an area hard-hit with the coronavirus. "There was the guilt of staying home and missing being here (at work) as a leader when my team needed me...there's also the survivor guilt because colleagues of mine died."
Jen Lipsey with Meghan Kelly (2)
Part 2: Jen Lipsey, CEO, ACLP, and Meghan Kelly, CCLS, continue to chat about the very personal perspective Meghan shares about her recovery from COVID-19. When family and friends were angry that she was going to go back to work after being so ill, her response was: "I'm a healthcare professional. This is what I do." Meghan also talks about how her team developed a flexible self-care plan to support themselves and each other while providing patient care during the height of the pandemic in New York.  

Meagan, Kristy Berksza, Teresa Schoell
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Kristy Berksza, CCLS, and Teresa Schoell, CCLS, about the importance of self-care. If you are feeling self-doubt, exhausted, and off-balance - you are not alone. Kristy and Teresa candidly share how they are feeling and coping while continuing to provide child life services during the COVID-19 pandemic. They felt vulnerable posting their feelings on the forum, but by doing so feel it opened up a space to receive support from other child life specialists. Teresa: "For me, reaching out to the forum is always a great place for information, for benchmarking, for ideas and inspiration, for support. That's always there and I love it!" Kristy: "You're not going to be able to help others unless you're present and nourished yourself."
Meagan, Cinda McDonald
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Cinda McDonald, CCLS, about working with children of seriously or terminally ill or injured adult patients - many with coronavirus. She and her team are providing support remotely while working from home, interacting with adults by phone and doing interventions with children by teleconference. They have been able to successfully advocate for children from 3 different families to have the opportunity to come to the hospital, see and say good-bye to their person just before they died. "Our team is really living with the mantra that we're all in this together. And, we're truly interested in doing what we can to support fellow child life specialists that might be seeking some guidance."
Jen and Genevieve Lowry
Part 1: Jen Lipsey, CEO, ACLP, talks with Genevieve Lowry, CCLS, about her long and multi-faceted career in child life. Genevieve has done it all. She has worked in clinical settings in NYC, in community settings, and now she is a force for change in academia. Hear how Genevieve became full-time faculty in the child life program at Bank Street College and adapted her teaching to a fully online format. "I think my online classes are much better." She also addresses the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on students and internships. "Many students are unable to complete their internships and as a result of that, lives have been put on hold." "How do we carry forth the next generation of child life professionals?"
Jen and Genevieve Lowry
Part 2: Jen Lipsey, CEO, ACLP, and Genevieve Lowry, CCLS, continue their conversation about the effects the coronavirus is having on child life. Jen Lipsey discusses how the pandemic is adding additional complexity to efforts of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to the child life profession. And, Genevieve discusses many ways to contribute support during this challenging time. "So much of what we do is to recognize when you're the front-line person and when you're the person that's holding up the front line."
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Caitlin Leary, CCLS, about her experiences in the Pediatric Primary Care Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and the success of her COVID-19 Facebook group. 
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Hilary Woodward, CCLS, about her multiple child life positions. Hilary works in the Pediatric Emergency Department at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. She is an adjunct faculty member at Bank Street College. And, she is the Director of Child Life at Base Camp - a simulation-based interprofessional pediatric emergency medicine training program.

COVID Video - Debbie Spencer, Meagan
Meagan Roloff, MA, CCLS, Director Member Engagement, ACLP, talks with Debbie Spencer, CCLS, about her role as Internship Coordinator at AdventHealth for Children and adapting training during the coronavirus pandemic using a variety of tactics including online meetings, article reviews, education sessions, and role-playing.

Jennifer Lipsey, CEO, ACLP, talks with Kia Ferrer, MS, CCLS, GC-C, about community-based child life and Tele-ChildLife - a professional learning module she developed for Certified Child Life Specialists utilizing online delivery of therapeutic interventions via video conferencing.