Sunday, July 29, 2018

Confusion for the CCLS

Hi friends! 
So it's been nearly a year since we have posted anything on here, and yet in the mean time we still have constant emails regarding questions for those entering the wonderful field of child life! Yahoo! 

I've been thinking about you all lately and what I would like to say to my readers... And honestly, I think it's more of a confession. 
Image result for job confusion
I am slightly embarrassed by my current job position. (And I don't know how to talk about it within the Child Life Community.)
Image result for embarrassed I have been working in a nonprofit, community based organization for almost 2 years now. (And I love it so much). 
A little over a year ago, an opportunity arose for me to become the Director of the Early Learning Center within the organization. My first thoughts were "No, I'm a CCLS. Not a child care teacher." "I worked too hard on my certification to go back to early education." 

However, y'all. It's been the best thing for me yet. I work in a city where there is a Children's Hospital right down the road... I could go apply for a CCLS position, but ya know what? I did a few years ago, and I didn't get it after two different interviews. That door was closed. 
Why? I don't know. But I know I am not supposed to be in the hospital setting. It was never in the plans for me. 

So here I am with my CCLS (and MASTERS degree at that), directing a really nice, high quality early learning center with a huge waiting list... 
And when I get that email from the ACLP telling me I owe this fee or that fee, part of me starts to cry inside (Not just because of how much it costs, because whoa!) but because I feel an unspoken criticism from the child life world. I feel as if my certification does not mean as much as yours because I am not in the hospital. 

When we get emails from students asking for an interview for their classes, I hate responding saying, "Well I don't work in the hospital, but I would love to help anyways." 

When I sign up for conferences and all of the workshops are for medical procedures, end of life care, staffing, or new preparation interventions... I ask myself, why am I spending money? 

And most importantly, when people ask me what Child Life is... I struggle to find an answer sometimes. But Child Life is simply helping children cope with life's challenges. And that's what I do every day, just not in the hospital. 

Yes, I am aware of (and somewhat involved in the online forum) the movement for Child Life in a Community Based Setting, but even then it is a focus on medical. 

It doesn't relate to me. Does that make me less of a Certified Child Life Specialist? 

Food for thought? 

Well of course, it doesn't make me any less of of a CCLS because I worked super hard for those four little letters, I pay a lot of money every year to maintain them, and I attend as many professional development conferences I can to continue to increase my knowledge. 

However, when does it change? When does it become acceptable and supported to be a CCLS in an early education setting? When do we start supporting each other for the individual paths we begin on? 

I am not a Director of an Early Learning Center because I failed to receive a position in a hospital- which is what most people assume. I CHOSE to work in the community setting. 
I CHOSE to be the Director of an Early Learning Center. 
I LOVE my job and what I do every day. 

So help me change the expectations. Help me advocate for the necessity of Child Life beyond the hospital. 
I mean hell0- because of my CCLS- I have enrolled a child with a feeding tube, and helped assess a child with a language delay! 

The expertise of Child Life is beneficial way beyond the hospital, clinics, and doctor's offices. Children need Child Life because we know children.

So I am tired of being embarrassed. I am tired of avoiding the blog because I become emotionally fatigued over rationalizing my job choice. I am going to start speaking up for the spread of the Child Life Profession in other settings! 

Anyone feel me? 
Anyone support me? 
What are your thoughts? 
-Caroline









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