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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. Innovative methods she and the late Barbara Stephens developed became known as "Comfort Measures", which have been adopted by hospitals nationally and internationally.

Learn more about how Mary Barkey revolutionized the field of child life as well as child- and family-centered care.



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In order to be nominated an individual must be a Certified Child Life Specialist who is an ACLP Member in good standing and spends at least 75% of their work hours serving in a direct clinical role. 

In addition, a candidate must meet 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
No present ACLP Board member is eligible for nomination. 
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Step 1: Nominate an Individual

Anyone may nominate a qualified individual 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.

Nominator Responsibilities:

  • Submit the initial nominator form August 7-18, 2023 11:59pm EST.
  • 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.

The nomination form must be submitted no later than August 18, 2023 by 11:59pm EST.  


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Step 2: Complete the Application

The nominator completing the initial nomination form is considered to be the primary endorser who will gather all the application documents to be submitted in the MBA application. Submit the full MBA Application and supporting documents for the individual by September 15, 2023 at 11:59pm EST.

A list of supporting documents in the MBA Application are:

  • Two completed Endorsement Forms (by two separate endorsers), both of whom must be ACLP members in good standing
  • A brief summary of the nominee
  • A copy of a current resume/CV for the nominee
  • A letter of support from a current or past employer’s department head or hospital administration

The completed MBA Application (with supporting documents) must be submitted no later than September 15, 2023 by 11:59pm EST. 

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Step 3: ACLP Awards Committee Selects Winner

Following the final submission deadline, the ACLP 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 2023. 

Please contact with any additional questions about the award application. 

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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.

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Child Life Profession