The Child Life Specialist Program educates students with the knowledge and experience to improve the lives of children and families facing traumatic events.
The undergraduate major in Child Life prepares students to become trained professionals with expertise in helping children and families overcome life's most challenging events.
Students will be provided a strong background in child development and family systems to promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self-expression activities. Child life specialists will provide emotional support for children and their families, and encourage development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization.
Through coursework and internship experiences, students will learn to meet the emotional, developmental and cultural needs of each child and family, foster partnerships with doctors, nurses, social workers and other healthcare professionals and serve as advocates for family centered care.
*adapted from the Child Life Council
The Child Life Specialist Program at University of Michigan-Dearborn is designed to educate students in the areas of knowledge and skills in the child life profession, as well as prepare them for the Child Life Professional Certification Exam.
Theoretical foundations of the program include basic concepts of human development and important concepts specific to child development such as attachment, personality, and play. Psychosocial foundations include stress and coping mechanisms, as well as dealing with separation and loss. Additionally, a wide range of applied areas of study relevant to training in early child life include therapeutic play, crisis intervention, counseling skills, and techniques for working with families.
The goals of the Child Life Specialist Program are to prepare students with the knowledge and experience to improve the lives of children and families facing traumatic events. This program will also address the unique and important cultural dimensions of the metropolitan Detroit area. Included in the curriculum will be a number of relevant classes that can be taken as electives that address important aspects such as disparities and challenges in urban society.
We have aligned the goals of our new undergraduate major with the domains and associated tasks of the Child Life Professional Certification Exam identified by the Child Life Council. These include (from study guide for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination, Child Life Council 2014).
The learning outcomes for the Child Life Specialist Program can be summarized as follows:
- Professional responsibility: Maintain professional and ethical standards of practice.
- Team building: Promote professional relationships with families, providers and community workers.
- Education and advocacy: Promote the understanding of the special needs of children and families among staff, students, volunteers and the community.
- Assessment of needs: Obtain and use the relevant information regarding developmental and psychosocial factors (e.g., health care, family and child) to inform a plan of care.
- Provide psychosocially and developmentally appropriate support for children and families.
- Empower and work with children and families to allow them to develop and use advocacy skills.
- Educate through opportunities and resources that promote learning and mastery.
- Provide coping strategies and promote empowerment for the child and family through the use of techniques aimed at minimizing fear and anxiety.
- Play to encourage expression and promote development and normalization.
- Cultural competence: Develop an understanding of the unique problems and experiences faced by subpopulations (e.g., minority groups, socioeconomically disadvantaged, immigrant populations).