Child Life Emphasis

The Child Life emphasis area prepares students to support child development and family coping within the context of pediatric illness, injury, medical treatment, and grief in a variety of health care and community settings. Our graduates will:

ENCOURAGE OPTIMAL GROWTH THROUGH CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES

Assess the psychosocial needs of children and families to minimize the negative developmental effects of stressful medical and life events

DEVELOP EFFECTIVE CHILD AND FAMILY INTERVENTIONS

Utilize evidence-based practice in therapeutic play, psychological preparation, and coping skills instruction to reduce anxiety and stress related to illness, disability, hospitalization, medical procedures, and loss

PROVIDE FAMILY-CENTERED CARE

Collaborate with families using a strengths-based approach to empower patients, support relationships, and enhance coping to help children and families minimize psychological trauma

Build your skills in a practical, hands-on way:

  • Understand and apply child development theory and research in the classroom and apply those principles in hands-on practice at the MU Child Development Lab and in volunteer experiences
  • Develop self-reflective practice and cultural humility
  • 100-hour practicum at University of Missouri Children’s Hospital (competitive, space-available opportunity)
  • 600-hour off-campus clinical internship in a pediatric hospital setting in the final semester
  • Mentorship with CCLS instructors, including internship application and interview support
  • Research opportunities with faculty specializing in children’s health, trauma, and play
  • Graduates are well-prepared to take the national Child Life Professional Certification Exam to earn the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential

Degree Requirements and Sample Program

Graduates from Child Life are prepared to work as Child Life Specialists with children, youth, and families across a variety of health care settings. Child Life is an essential part of pediatric healthcare.

  • Hospital inpatient and outpatient care units
  • Pediatric rehabilitation facilities
  • Early developmental intervention agencies
  • Specialized camps for children
  • Bereavement centers and funeral homes
  • Hospice and home health settings
  • Children’s crisis centers

For more information on the child life profession and career opportunities, visit the Association of Child Life Professionals

Child Life Advisor

Nora HagerNora Hager
Phone: (573) 884-5997
E-mail: hagern@missouri.edu

doctor with child patient

Child LIfe brochure PDFClick image to open brochure

Kristin Brown

"I have used my student volunteer and practicum experience as a guide for how to best support the volunteers and students I now supervise. I am able to... transfer that over into my teaching style to better support others in preparing for practice and the exam."

KRISTIN BROWN, CCLS | FORT MEYERS, FL
CHILD LIFE (BS) ‘13

Jamie Martin

"I am constantly applying the skills and education that I obtained during my HDFS coursework ... I had a very supportive relationship with faculty who truly wanted to guide me in the right direction and were available for support at all times."

JAMIE MARTIN, CCLS | CHICAGO, IL
CHILD LIFE (BS) ‘18