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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Education and Professional Studies

Child Life Specialization

Major in Child Life 


What is Child Life?

Child life specialists are child development experts who help children and families cope during hospitalization. They promote coping through play, self-expression activities, and medical preparation. The child life specialization at CWU includes the required courses to prepare students to pursue child life internships, and after, to become certified child life specialists. Graduates are also prepared to work with children and families in other contexts.

Child Life Specialization Program Required Courses

Child Development Minor or Certificate

Interested in the Major? Contact Information

Family and Child Life Majors with a Child Life Specialization will:

  1. Understand child life and family relationships from a Family Systems perspective.
  2. Develop interpersonal skills to apply child development principles in therapeutic contexts.
  3. Learn medical terminology and intervention techniques relevant to hospitalization.
  4. Experience teamwork and learn collaborative skills.
  5. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication and strong critical thinking skills.
  6. Learn to analyze and present scientific information related to children and families.

What is Unique about the Child Life Specialization at CWU?

Our Child Life program is endorsed by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

All Family and Child Life students complete a multi-term practicum or internship experience in an agency suited to their particular professional goals. Students who specialize in child life will select a site where they gain experience working with children. This may include a day care or preschool, community program for youth, medical facility, WIC office, or any of a variety of programs that serve the needs of children and families. Many students choose to earn some of their practicum credit by volunteering at a local summer camp for medically-fragile children. The Child Life Club is also actively involved in volunteering at local children's hospitals.

Child life students take several applied skills courses taught by practicing child life specialists and family therapists. In these courses, students develop therapeutic skills and are well-prepared to work with children and families in many settings following graduation. The program requirements include the 10 courses required for certification as a child life specialist by the Child Life Council. 


Child Life Specialization Required Courses

Course #TitleCredits
FCL 101Skills for Marriage and Intimate Relationships4
FCL 234Contemporary Families4
FCL 235Relationships and Personal Development3
FCL 336Parent Education and Guidance4
FCL 344Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy4
FCL 405*Professional Obligations and Responsibilities4
FCL 419*Research in Family and Child Life4
FCL 434Diversity and Families4
FCL 492*Family and Child Life Practicum12
FCL 495*Undergraduate Research1
FCL 232Child Development3
FCL 339Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood4
FCL 340Supporting Children with Special Needs and their Families4
FCL 345Advanced Concepts in Child Development4
FCL 414Coping with Grief and Loss4
FCL 415Therapeutic Play4
FCL 416Child Life I: Child Life Scope of Practice4
FCL 417Pediatric Diagnoses and Medical Terminology4
FCL 418Child Life II: Impact of Child Hospitalization4
FCL 432Theories in Child Development3
FCL 438Attachment Theory and Practice4
 Approved Specialization Electives7
 Total Credits for Child Life Specialization94




















* For Family and Child Life Majors Only

Child Life Elective Courses:

FCL 310     |  Family Issues in the 21st Century (4)
FCL 332     |  Trauma and Resilience in Children and Adults (4)
FCL 333     |  Culture and Marriage  (4)
FCL 334     |  Family Problems and Mediation  (4)
FCL 335     |  Divorce and Remarriage  (3)
FCL 337     |  Human Sexuality  (4)
FCL 403     |  Family Communication  (4)
FCL 435     |  Aging and Family Life  (4)
FCL 439     |  Families and Public Policy  (4)
FCL 440     |  Teaching for Family and Child Life  (2-6)
PHIL 308    |  Medical Ethics  (5)
ANTH 353  |  Childhood and Culture  (4)
SOC 320    |  Death and Dying (5)

Child Life Two Year Graduation Plan

CWU Catalog Program of Study

Admission and Graduation Requirements

Students wishing to declare a major in family and child life must be incoming first-year or transfer students or have a cumulative CWU GPA of 2.8. Family and child life majors must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher to remain in the major and must earn a “C” or higher in all courses used to satisfy the family and child life major.

Application Process

To apply for the major, complete the major application form and meet with Dr. Claridge or Professor Tenhulzen.

The Family and Child Life major has three specializations: Child Life, Child Development, and Family Science.

For information about the Child Life Specialization or other Family and Child Life programs, please contact:

Professor Katy Tenhulzen
Child Life Program Director
Michaelsen Hall 225
Family & Child Life Program Director
Michaelsen Hall 327
(509) 963-2758

Family and Child Life Faculty

For more information about the child life profession or certification requirements, visit the Association of Child Life Professionals website. We also have a Master's degree in Family and Child Life.

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