Thursday, October 2, 2014

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Child Life

For any of you who may be following us regularly or just tuned in, you may be wondering what the point of our blog is. One thing I want to remain focused on is research and the growth of the child life profession. You can call me a nerd; it won’t hurt my feelings. My goal is to do most of the work for you and you can benefit from my nerdiness!
That being said… Have you heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement this year on the benefits of the Child Life profession in pediatric healthcare?
Click here for a full look at the statement.

In the past, the statement on child life programs was very minimal with little to no input from actual Certified Child Life Specialists. THIS TIME: AAP and CLC partnered together to write the statement, which you will be able to tell when you read the statement yourself! The statement was also written out in full in the latest CLC Bulletin.


Child life programs have become the standard in large pediatric settings to address the psychosocial concerns that accompany hospitalization and other health care experiences. Child life programs facilitate coping and the adjustment of children and families in 3 primary service areas: 1) providing play experiences; 2) presenting developmentally appropriate information about events and procedures; and 3) establishing therapeutic relationships with children and parents to support family involvement in each child's care. Although other members of the health care team share these responsibilities for the psychosocial concerns of the child and the family, for the child life specialist, this is the primary role. The child life specialist focuses on the strengths and sense of well-being of children while promoting their optimal development and minimizing the adverse effects of children's experiences in a hospital setting.
  • Here is my summary of what is included in the statement: 
  • The first section discuss in brief history of our profession's integration into the hospital, complete with statistics relevant to employment of CLSs in 1980s & 1990s. The recommended ration is 1 CCLS to every 15-20 patients; however, this is still dependent on the patient population, patient age, and other stress-potential factors. The end of this section mentions the qualification process for certification and validates that we are experts in our field of child development.
  • The AAP breaks down the three major roles of a CCLS, although we all know we can wear many (many) more hats on any given day. This is a great start in attempting to outline the core of what we do as a CCLS. These three major jobs are: 
1. Play
2. Psychological Preparation
3. Family Support

The AAP statement goes on to discuss the vital role a CCLS can have in today's changing healthcare environment with a high demand of individualized care. Everyone is expecting this individualized great customer service and care, but the medical team is focused on what is necessary medically speaking. CCLSs are specially trained and certified to meet the psychosocial needs of the children. 

In the final section titled "Additional Contributions," the AAP lists out a few more valuable skills and abilities we bring to healthcare. Child life services: 
  • Contribute to meeting standards set by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO) such as "developmentally appropriate care, patient education, and assessment of patients." 
  • Are "valuable consultants" in designing and setting up a pediatric facility because we are trained to put everything in the perspective of the child. 
  • Can help with patients transitioning back to "home, school, and community" and prepare them to cope with "home care experiences." 
  • Can be utilized in alternative settings including "disease-specific camps, hospice programs, supplemental child care for technology-dependent children, programs for high risk infants, and courtrooms for pretrial support of juvenile victims." 

The AAP's conclusion? Get ready for this! "CHILD LIFE SERVICES MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEDIATRIC CARE." Oh, and we "help contain costs" and bring in positive consumer feedback from patients and families. 

After the article, the AAP lists four recommendations for healthcare administration in regards to the child life profession. Do you agree with them? What do you think about the language used to describe our profession? What questions do you want to see answered in the future as far as our integration into the healthcare team? 

If you still haven't gone over to read the full statement, click here to read now! 


All quotes in this posts are from the AAP statement on child life profession.