As of 2015, the Child Life Council?s website lists 44 programs in 27 states offering child life degrees. American Public University has an online-only undergraduate degree, while Dakota County Technical College in Minnesota offers a child life assistant program. McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, has a postprofessional diploma program.
California has five institutions that offer degree programs with child life concentrations. Azuza Pacific University offers a bachelor of arts in psychology with a child life specialist concentration. Loma Linda University has a masters program in child life, while Mills College in Oakland offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in the major. The University of California at Santa Barbara provides an extension course certification in child life, and the University of La Verne has a graduate program in child life.
The Child Life Council awards the Certified Child Life Specialist credential after participants have completed a 480-hour clinical internship and passed a national examination. Candidates typically have backgrounds in child development and family systems and use play therapy, education and self-expression activities to help children and their families cope in difficult circumstances.
Child life specialists often work with children and their families who are experiencing challenges in health care and hospital settings. They also play a role in educating others in the health care field about the special needs of children undergoing stressful life events.