Best Child Life Specialist Programs in Canada

When a child is hospitalized, it can be difficult for the whole family, and Child Life Specialists are educated professionals competent in assisting children and their families through these difficult circumstances.

They have a strong background in childhood development and understand the effects of stress and hospitalization on a child’s development.

Child life specialists use play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities to help kids deal with stressful situations healthily. Additionally, they support and advocate for family members and offer information, support, and advocacy.

They are an essential healthcare team member because they offer children and families more resources for support as they cope with the frequently upsetting circumstances of illness or injury.

What is the work of a child life specialist?

Child life specialists are pediatric medical professionals who work with kids and families in hospitals and other places to help them deal with the difficulties of being hospitalized, ill, or disabled.

They offer play and self-expression activities and age-appropriate training for medical procedures and pain management. They also play a critical role in informing the public, administrators, and caregivers about the requirements of kids who are under stress.

The scope of practice

A child life specialist’s work constantly changes and offers plenty of room for creativity in creating coping mechanisms.

They focus on the patient’s psychosocial needs, including their mental, emotional, and social needs, which sets them apart from many other healthcare professionals.

Some of the responsibilities and roles of a child life specialist: 

  • Helping children and their families understand a process, procedure, or other aspect of their medical experience by employing various strategies.
  • Creating treatment programs that use therapeutic play, education, preparation, and activities that foster growth and development to reduce trauma and increase comprehension of a medical diagnosis.
  • Speaking on behalf of families and kids with disabilities.
  • Assisting in the processing and management of medical crises for kids and their families.
  • Educating, assisting, and guiding parents and other family members.
  • Coordinating and managing care in conjunction with the medical team.
  • Non-direct patient care activities include providing the medical staff with educational opportunities, organizing the instruction of students, and maintaining the therapeutic supplies and activity areas.

Kids and their families are the focus of the work of child life specialists, who are heavily involved in patient care. They frequently collaborate with chaplains, nurses, doctors, social workers, and other medical professionals.


These specialists may work with a variety of patients depending on the size of the organization they are employed by, or they may work in a specific department where they focus on interacting with cardiac patients, patients undergoing outpatient surgery, patients in the emergency room, or a patient demographic with a particular medical diagnosis.

Workplace Environment

Child life specialists typically work in hospitals but may also find employment in hospices, dental offices, schools, summer camps, and perhaps even in patients’ homes.

They also have busy days and are frequently on the go, assessing patient needs and offering direct interventions to children and families, and they often work full-time, 40-hour weeks from Monday through Friday, though they may also be expected to work on the weekends or holidays.

Child Life Specialists Eligibility Requirements

Candidates must fulfill three conditions before qualifying for the main exam;

  1. A Minimum of a Baccalaureate Degree;

Before the application deadline for the exam you are applying for, candidates must have successfully finished a baccalaureate degree (in any course of study). To view the requirements for 2019 through 2023, click here.

  1. Academic Work;

A minimum of one child life course must have been instructed by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS); additionally, candidates must have passed ten college-level classes in child life or a similar subject.

  • Coursework Evaluation: You can ask for a coursework review if, after reading the eligibility requirements, you are still determining if the coursework on your transcript will be recognized to establish eligibility for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination. Visit Here.
  1. Pediatric Clinical Experience;

A minimum of 600 hours* of clinical child life experience under the close guidance of a Certified Child Life Specialist who satisfies specific requirements is required of applicants.

Child Life Specialists Programs in Canada

Here are some academic programs in child life that have been approved by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) to guarantee that they meet the criteria outlined in the Standards for Academic and Clinical Preparation Programs available in the most recent Official Documents of the ACLP.

Undergraduate Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Life
  • Bachelor of Science in Child Life
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Development Child Life Concentration
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science, Specialization Track: Child Life Specialist
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology, Child Life Concentration
  • Bachelor of Science in Child Development, Child Life Emphasis

Graduate Programs

  • Master of Science in Child Life
  • Master of Science in Child Development with a Child Life Concentration
  • Master of Science, Child Life Specialist
  • Master of Science in Child Life and Pediatric Psychosocial Care
  • Master of Science in Child and Family Studies, Child Life Concentration
  • Master of Science Health & Human Physiology, Sub-Track Child Life
  • Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development, Child Life Concentration
  • Master of Science in Child Life, Administration, and Family Collaboration

Child Life Specialists Requirements for Employment

Usually, it would help if you had this to do the job;

  1. To work in the fields of social work, pediatric or adolescent care, psychology, or another social science or health-related sector, you usually need to finish a college or university program.
  2. For some jobs in this unit group, prior experience working in a social service setting as a volunteer or support role may be substituted for the formal education requirements.
  3. In some provinces, social service providers may be obliged to be a part of a regulatory agency.

Final Note about the Child Life Specialist Programs in Canada

Through the innovative work of Emma Plank and others, who received training from Maria Montessori and employed the concepts of child development to encourage proper care for hospitalized children, the profession of child life services started to grow in Canada in the early 1960s.

Before that, parents were frequently denied access to the pediatric wards outside a few brief visitation hours.

Today, programs and environments that respect families as essential medical team members are provided to acknowledge children’s unique emotional and educational requirements. The Association of Child Life Professionals is a fantastic resource for more information about this profession.

FAQs about Child Life Specialist Programs in Canada

How can a person in Canada become a child life specialist?

It is typically necessary to complete a college or university program in social work, child and adolescent care, psychology, or another social science or health-related field.

Which degree is ideal for a child life specialist?

Education qualifications as specified by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) Bachelor’s degree in child life studies (or a similar discipline, such as child development, child and family studies, psychology, or early childhood education)

What is the average salary for a childcare specialist in Canada?

In Canada, a child life expert makes, on average, $66,338 per year, or $34.02 per hour.

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