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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Education and Professional Studies

Child Life Specialization

Major in Child Life 


Mother, father and child playing on the floor together

What is Child Life?

Child life specialists are child development experts who help children and families cope in medical settings such as hospitals. They provide education about medical diagnoses and treatments and promote coping through procedural support, play, and therapeutic activities. Graduates of the child life specialization are prepared to pursue child life graduate studies, internships, and certification as Certified Child Life Specialists.


Alternately, child life students bring a unique foundation of knowledge and skills to graduate programs for other healthcare professions in pediatrics such as nursing, pre-med, physician assistants, and physical or occupational therapy. Future healthcare professionals may decide to take child life classes through the major or as part of the Child Development minor 



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 # Title Credits
FCL 101 Skills for Marriage and Intimate Relationships 4
FCL 232 Child Development 3
FCL 234 Contemporary Families 4
FCL 235 Relationships and Personal Development 3
FCL 236 Parent Education and Guidance 4
FCL 344 Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy 4
FCL 405* Professional Obligations and Responsibilities 4
FCL 419* Research in Family and Child Life 4
FCL 434 Diversity and Families 4
FCL 492* Family and Child Life Practicum 12
FCL 495* Undergraduate Research 1
FCL 339 Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood 4
FCL 340 Supporting Children with Special Needs and their Families 4
FCL 345 Advanced Concepts in Child Development 4
FCL 414 Coping with Grief and Loss 4
FCL 415 Therapeutic Play 4
FCL 416 Child Life I: Child Life Scope of Practice 4
FCL 417 Pediatric Diagnoses and Medical Terminology 4
FCL 418 Child Life II: Impact of Child Hospitalization 4
FCL 432 Theories in Child Development 3
FCL 438 Attachment Theory and Practice 4
  Approved Specialization Electives 7
  Total Credits for Child Life Specialization 94

* For Family and Child Life Majors Only

Child Life Elective Courses:
FCL 237     |  Human Sexuality  (4)
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 403     |  Family Communication  (4)
FCL 435     |  Adult Development, 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 with a specialization in Child Life must be incoming first-year or transfer students or have a cumulative CWU GPA of 3.0. All 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. Amy Claridge.

The Family and Child Life major has three specializations: Child Life, Child Development, and Family Science. We also offer two minors: Family Science and Child Development

For information about the Child Life Specialization or other Family and Child Life programs, please contact Dr. Amy Claridge.

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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