Helping families and children thrive: CEHHS adds new program in child's life

February 23, 2015
UM-Dearborn College of Education, Health, and Human Services

A new University of Michigan-Dearborn program will train students to help families and children thrive during challenging life events. The Bachelor of Arts degree in child’s life will begin this fall through the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS).

The program is one of only three in the state to specifically focus on preparing students to be child life specialists.

“Child life specialists work with children living with serious chronic or acute medical conditions, by interacting with the child and their parents, their teachers, and their healthcare providers,” said CEHHS Dean Janine Janosky. “Through the integration of education and health and human services, the focus is upon helping children to express and understand their emotions so the child's overall well-being is strengthened.”

The degree prepares students to reduce the negative impact of stressful or traumatic events—particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization—for both children and their families. Students train to promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self-expression activities.

Child’s life specialists are placed in a broad range of work environments, including:

  • Emergency departments
  • Surgical units
  • Intensive care units
  • Special needs camps
  • Medical and dental practices

“Health professionals and researchers recognize the detrimental impact of child trauma and distress to health throughout the lifespan.  University of Michigan Dearborn trained Child’s Life professionals will be on the front lines of protecting lifetime health through their intervention and service during vulnerable periods in a child’s development.  UM-Dearborn’s new Department of Health and Human services is dedicated to health promotion and prevention at every stage of life.”

The 120-credit program will include coursework in health, education, and children and family life. Students will gain direct training in the field through a clinical experience under the supervision of a certified child life specialist.

Roddy said graduates will be prepared to certify as child’s life specialists through the Child Life Council exam.

For more information on the degree, visit or call 313-593-5090.

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