The profession of child life specialist was created to help children and their families navigate the emotionally and physically demanding process of coping with hospitalization. Child life specialists use their knowledge of child development and developmentally appropriate interventions to educate, prepare and support children through difficult tests, procedures, and the sometimes drastic changes that happen within their families due to chronic or acute illness, treatment, and recovery.
As part of the health care team, child life professionals advocate for the special needs of children and their families. Child life programs provide children with opportunities to engage in normal play and recreational activities that promote growth, development, and feelings of success and fulfillment. Child life professionals promote the role of parents and other family members as full partners on the health care team and promote the philosophy of patient- and family-centered care.