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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Education and Professional Studies

Child Life Specialization

Major in Child Life or Minor in Child Development


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

Interested in the Major or Minor? 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 320*Theories of Family Dynamics4
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 414Coping with Grief and Loss4
FCL 415Therapeutic Play4
FCL 416Child Life I: Child Life Scope of Practice4
FCL 417Pediatric Disgnoses and Medical Terminology4
FCL 418Child Life II: Impact of Child Hospitalization4
FCL 432Theories in Child Development3
FCL 438Attachment Theory and Practice4
 Approved Specialization Electives11
 Total Credits for Child Life Specialization93


















* For Family and Child Life Majors Only

Child Life Elective Courses:

FCL 310  |  Family Issues in the 21st Century (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  |  Family Gerontology  (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

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

Child Development Minor

A minor in child development is designed for students who want some expertise in child development to improve their ability to work with children or parents in their chosen profession. Students majoring in psychology, early childhood education, special education, sociology, social services, public health, law and justice, physical and health education, and recreation and tourism may benefit from the child development minor.

Students in the Child Development minor will learn about theories of child development; cutting-edge research about how children develop in multiple domains, with a focus on how development occurs in the context of family, community, and culture; and skills for practical application of child development.  Completing the minor will enhance students’ competitiveness for jobs involving interaction with children in a variety of disciplines.

Child Development Minor Required Courses

Course #TitleCredits
FCL 232Child Development4
FCL 336Parent Education and Guidance4
FCL 438Attachment Theory and Practice4
 Approved Child Development Electives15-16
 Total Credits for Child Development Minor26-27

Child Development Elective Courses:

FCL 339 |  Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood (4)
FCL 414 |  Coping with Loss and Grief (4)
FCL 415 |  Therapeutic Play (4)
FCL 416 |  Child Life I: Child Life Scope of Practice (4)
FCL 417 |  Childhood Diseases and Disorders (4)
FCL 418 |  Child Life II: Impact of Child Hospitalization (4)
FCL 432 |  Theories in Child Development (3)

Pre-Admission Requirements

Students wishing to declare a minor in Child Development must be incoming freshmen, transfer students, or have a cumulative GPA of 2.5.  Child Development minors must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher to remain in the minor.

Application Process

To apply for the minor, please complete the minor application form, indicating that you are applying for the Child Development minor. Send the completed form to Professor Tenhulzen or set up a time to meet with her in person.

The Family and Child Life major has two specializations: Child Life and Family Science.

For information about the Child Life Specialization or the Child Development Minor, please contact:

Professor Katy Tenhulzen
Child Life Program Director
Michaelsen Hall 225

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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