Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS)

The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) offers the only program to certify child life professionals. According to ACLP, Certified Child Life Specialists are educated and clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury. Their role helps improve patient and family care, satisfaction, and overall experience.

Infants, children and youth confront a wide variety of stressful and potentially traumatic events that can impact their ability to cope. These experiences related to healthcare can lead to feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control and isolation that can inhibit their development and have negative effects on their physical and emotional health and well-being.

In both healthcare and community settings, Certified Child Life Specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. They provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.

HDFS students in the child and adolescent development option just need to choose some specific electives to qualify for certification. HDFS students in other options may also qualify by taking all of the required courses listed here.

Following is a list of the NDSU courses that are required to become a CCLS

HDFS 250 Introduction to Research Methods

HDFS 320 Prenatal, Infant and Toddler Development

HDFS 330 Child Development

HDFS 340 Adolescent Development

HDFS 341 Parent-Child Relations

HDFS 350 Fundamentals of Hospital Child Life

HDFS 483 Best Practices, Play and Activities from Birth Through Adolescence

HDFS 496 Field Experience

SOC /ANTH 441 Death and Dying

BIOL 220 Human Anatomy and Physiology

CHP 125 Medical Terminology for Health Professionals (1 credit)

PHIL 210 Ethics

Either before or after graduation, a 600-hour internship is also required. This is separate from field experience.

After the internship, a certification exam is also required.

Here is more information about becoming a child life specialist. 


Top of page