Mary Barkey Clinical Excellence Award

Nominations open July 11, 2022.


The ACLP Mary Barkey Clinical Excellence Award is presented annually to an individual child life specialist who has demonstrated exemplary child life care and a high level of clinical skill.

This award is named after, and honors, the late Mary Barkey. Mary was a pioneer in the field of child life. She received a BA in Early Childhood Development at the University of Nebraska. She later received an MA in Counseling and Human Services from John Carroll University. In 1980, she found a special calling in the Child Life Department at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, where she worked through 2007. Mary saw new possibilities in caring for children undergoing stressful procedures and began applying her ever-practical ingenuity.

Over time, innovative methods she and the late Barbara Stephens developed became known as "Comfort Measures", which have been adopted by hospitals nationally and internationally. An article written by Mary in the Summer 2008 issue of ACLP Bulletin describes how she developed this new method.

Mary served on the national board of the Child Life Council, and in 2007 was honored with the RB&C Foundation Trustee Award for Clinical Excellence. 


Eligibility & Criteria


Any Association of Child Life Professionals certified member in good standing, who spends at least 75% of his or her work hours serving in a direct clinical role, and meets the following criteria:

  • Demonstrates the ability to work collaboratively with other health care team disciplines in the delivery of patient care which results in positive outcomes for patients 
  • Models exemplary practice of child life through critical thinking, inquiry, evaluation, and a commitment to continuous improvement 
  • Demonstrates advanced competence and an ability to provide effective interventions in a variety of situations
  • Models child life practice and team behaviors that acknowledge and respect the diversity of patients/families and members of the health care team
  • Demonstrates strong professionalism and values-driven interactions that include clear, supportive, boundaries-sensitive, and professional relationships with patients and families
  • Exercises sensitivity to the individual circumstances of patients/families and provides supporting and nurturing care 
  • Embraces and models the core concepts of patient- and family-centered care including information-sharing to support patient/family participation, collaboration and involvement in their care 
  • Participates in the development and incorporation of evidence-based practice
  • Mentors new child life specialists and students in developing child life competencies and supporting the effective transition to professional practice
  • Actively participates as a member of the Association of Child Life Professionals

Nomination Process

Anyone may nominate a qualified ACLP certified member for the Mary Barkey Clinical Excellence Award.

The Awards Committee encourages nominations of diverse candidates that include Black, Indigenous and Native American, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ+ and members with different abilities and gender identities as well as those from varying geographical areas, program sizes, and cultural backgrounds.

Send in the initial nomination form of who you would like to nominate to awards@childlife.orgThe initial form should be turned in on or before September 16, 2022.

Once you have your nomination turned in, you must gather all supporting documents. 

A list of supporting documents are:

  • Completed MBA Nomination and Endorser Form
  • Completed Endorsement Form by two endorsers, both of whom must be ACLP members in good standing
  • A letter of support from a current or past employer’s department head or hospital administration
  • A current resume
Submit all supporting documents to Mary Bean, at by October 5, 2022.

No present ACLP Board member is eligible for nomination.  

In order to build/present a strong nomination for each candidate, nominators are asked to provide specific behavioral examples in each section of the Exemplars form. The Awards Committee will carefully examine the information provided in order to recommend the strongest candidate for this award.

Please refer to the Submission Tips Sheet for additional guidance on completing the forms.

Nominator Responsibilities:

  • Gather all nomination package materials and submit to Mary Bean, by October 05, 2022
  • Will serve as author(s) of the article honoring the recipient featured in the ACLP Summer Bulletin.
  • If the nominator chooses, create a video that will honor the recipient and be played during the closing session at the ACLP Child Life Annual Conference.

Selection Process

Following the final submission deadline, the Awards Committee will review all completed applications and suggest a recipient to the ACLP Board of Directors. All nominees and the Primary Nominator will be notified of the final decision by the end of 2022. 

Please contact with any additional questions about the award application. 

Previous Recipients

The ACLP Mary Barkey Clinical Excellence Award is presented to an individual child life specialist who has demonstrated exemplary child life care and a high level of clinical skill. You can find previous award recipients here.

Child Life Profession