Child life is a discipline that examines the ways in which children and families cope with the stresses of healthcare and hospitalization, with a focus on improving their quality of life through interventions and support.
At Edgewood College, our Bachelor of Science in Child Life prepares students for valuable careers as Child Life Specialists — healthcare professionals who provide psychosocial support for children and advocacy for families. In both ambulatory and inpatient settings, Child Life Specialists promote patient and family-centered care while working with children and their families who are living with the realities of acute hospitalization, chronic or terminal illness, surgery, trauma, injuries, and disabilities.
Endorsed by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP), Edgewood College's Child Life degree program is the only academic program in Wisconsin that offers students the opportunity to complete their undergraduate and graduate degree in Child Life. Our hands-on, industry-relevant curriculum is designed to get you out of the classroom and into the healthcare industry with rigorous preparation and real-world experience. When you earn your degree with Edgewood College, you'll have the skills, knowledge, and professional connections to enter a clinical setting and make a positive, long-lasting impact on the lives of others.
Through this program, you will develop expertise in helping children and families cope with acute and chronic illness, medical procedures, and grief and loss. A foundation in learning how the use of developmentally appropriate play, psychosocial support, and teaching can help reduce the stress of hospitalization, illness, and health care procedures in pediatric patients and families.
Our faculty, within the Child Life program, are all certified Child Life Specialists with clinical and educational experience; ensuring a well-rounded educational experience for all Child Life Students.
Preparation is in alignment with the Association of Child Life Professionals standards and guidelines.
As part of the program, you will complete an intensive internship.
After graduation and entry into employment, you will take the Professional Certification examination of the Child Life Council, the national professional organization for Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS).
According to the Association of Child Life Professionals, Child Life Specialists are child development experts who work to ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments. They promote effective coping through play, self-expression activities, and age-appropriate medical preparation and education.
As advocates for family-centered care, Child Life Specialists work in partnership with Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers and others to meet the unique emotional, developmental, and cultural needs of each child and family. Child Life Specialists work in general pediatric inpatient units, and often in specialty areas like emergency departments, surgical and intensive care units, and outpatient areas. Increasingly, Child Life services are also being offered in other settings, such as community outreach programs, private medical and dental practices, and special needs camps.
Child Life Specialists:
As the need for child life services continues to grow, so does the demand for skilled and qualified professionals in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the health services industry, which includes child life positions, is projected to increase 13% from 2021-2031 — much faster than the average for all occupations.
Like other healthcare roles, the salary for Child Life Specialists varies widely depending on education, experience, and location. In general, however, Child Life Specialists in the United States can expect to make between $50,000 and $65,000, with the average salary at about $57,500 as of 2022. In terms of advancement, many Child Life Specialists go on to fulfill supervisory and team management roles in hospitals and other healthcare settings.
With a strong and supportive professional network, opportunities for advancement, and the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of children and families, a career as a Child Life Specialist is a rewarding choice for individuals with a passion for helping others.
For current Edgewood College Child Life students, ED 210, 220, 301, and 306 are required before applying for full admission into the Child Life Major. To take Child Life courses beyond the ED 301 level, one must complete the Child Life application. For admissions into the Child Life degree program for the next academic year, applications are due by June 1st for students in the Fall session and August 1st for students in the Summer session.
ED 301: Introduction into Child Life
The child life profession, including theoretical and historical perspectives on child life; programming, job availability, trends affecting academic preparation; program requirements, field experiences, including practicum placements, internships and volunteer experiences; supplemental career options; interviews and presentations of program directors, child life professionals, and alumnae working in the field of child life. Prerequisites: Second year students only
ED 308: History of Child Life
An overview of the history of the child life profession, from the earliest development of pediatric care and the identification of psychosocial care for children in health care settings, through the emergence of child life as a professional organization. Topics will include fundamental theorists and researchers, and key pioneers whose work help define the profession, the Association for the Care of Children in Hospitals, the Child Life Council, and the CLC Archives. This is a predominantly online course. Prerequisite: ED 301 Introduction to Child Life
ED 311C: Wellness and Ethics in Child Life
This course provides introductory knowledge and skills to integrate concepts of health and wellness into practice in the field of elementary education and child life. Instruction in developmentally appropriate programs for health promotion will build understanding of personal and community health issues that are currently relevant with children and families.
ED 360: Medical Terminology for Child Life
This medical terminology course will provide framework for medical terminology used in the hospital setting. This course is primary held online. Prerequisites: Admission to Child Life.
ED 370: Psychosocial Care of Hospitalized Children and Families
Effects of hospitalization on children, adolescents and families at each stage of development. Focus on applied theory and interventions to lessen the stress of hospitalization. The role of family systems and the relationship with the child life specialist as a member of the health care team will be explored. A practicum is required. Prerequisites: Admission to Child Life.
ED 372: Materials and Methods of Play- Child Life
Materials and methodology for Child Life activity programs; including preparation, therapeutic medical play, distraction, and coping. Prerequisites: ED 370, ED 375, Admission to Child Life.
ED 375: Pediatric Conditions and Research
Common medical diseases and conditions of children and adolescents including those requiring surgical intervention. Emerging treatment and innovative research methods in child life and the healthcare environment will be explored. Prerequisites: Admission to Child Life.
ED 376: Loss, Bereavement, and Trauma- Child Life
Special needs, interventions and coping strategies for dealing with crisis situations of emergency room trauma, dying children and youth, and grieving families. Prerequisites:
ED 370, ED 375, admission to Child Life
ED 475: Child Life field experience
This course will provide students with the opportunity to apply academic and clinical skills learned in the classroom in a professional program setting under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. Students will be required to explore the application of their unique background and foundation included with interpersonal skills to develop a philosophy and professional standard that will encourage their emerging role as a family centered health care professional. Consideration of all current aspects of multidisciplinary health care will be included as students create an understanding of medical, psychosocial, and ethical care of children in hospitals and health care settings. Prerequisites: Completion of all other coursework.
*Edgewood College follows the Association of Child Life Professionals standards for internship application:
After graduation and entry into employment, students are eligible to take the Professional Certification (CCLS) examination of the Association of Child Life Professionals. Upon completion of our child life program, graduates will have satisfied the all national course requirements, have completed the Association of Child Life Professionals mandated 600- hour internship in a child life program supervised by Certified Child Life Specialists.
Edgewood College's Child Life program is proud to have earned endorsement from the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). This endorsement is a testament to the high standards and quality of the program's curriculum, which is designed to provide undergraduate students with comprehensive education and hands-on training in the field of child life. By earning an ACLP endorsement, Edgewood College's Child Life program is recognized as a top choice for students looking to pursue a career in child life studies, providing students with a valuable advantage in the job market.
"My experience with the Child Life Program was absolutely remarkable. I was provided with multiple hands-on experiences, strong academic guidance, and professional development opportunities that both prepared me for and made me confident in my place in this field. The one-on-one attention given by the professors was outstanding. The program director truly cares about each student and devotes herself to helping them succeed. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing."
Jessica Krahmer, CCLS
If you're interested in making a difference in the lives of children and families, Edgewood College can prepare you to lead a fulfilling career as a Child Life Specialist. Whether you're a first-year, transfer, or adult learner, our flexible Child Life degree program helps you develop the knowledge, experience, and expertise to succeed in healthcare, with opportunities available to fund your studies.