M.S. in Child Life Q & A

Charity Vasquez, M.S., CCLS answers a few questions about the Masters in Science Child Life program.

1. What is the MS in Child Life, and what makes it unique?

MS in Child Life will prepare students towards this specialized role for working with children and families in times of stress as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) are allied health care professionals who support infants, children and adolescents and their families in times of stress, facing challenging circumstances such as hospitalization, illness, and disability. The role of a CCLS is unique because CCLS, based on child development knowledge, addresses the whole child and practices family centered care approach when providing psychosocial needs in hospitals or non-hospital settings. CCLS normalizes environment for children, encourages self-expressions, supports normal growth and development, facilitates grief processes and helps children’s understanding of medical conditions and procedures, including parents and siblings during interventions. CCLS provides educational supportive services and therapeutic interventions to reduce fear, anxiety and pain, thus maximizing coping skills.

2. What gets you excited about Child Life as a career?

The field itself gets me excited as a career. The desire to work in healthcare setting with children and being an advocate as well as a support system in such setting was the reason I pursued this career. The progression of the field from when I started to where it is now is an exciting road that I am looking forward to be a part of the students’ journey.

3. What have been some of your personal experiences as a CCLS?

Being a CCLS myself for many years in clinical settings at hospital settings doing direct and non-direct patient care itself shaped me to be who I am in academia and a practitioner in the field. Through my direct clinical experiences with children and families that I was encouraged to further my career by applying myself in various management roles advocating for these children and families and teaching about such roles in college/universities. It’s an honor to be given opportunities to serve these children and their families during various stressful and challenging situation. I feel that being a CCLS is not just a career but also a mission I was given the path to follow, the way I can integrate faith doing the work god wants me to do with children and families.

4. How have you seen this career contribute to the Kingdom of God?

Working with children, I am often reminded of scriptures discussed in several books when the disciples rebuked the children from approaching Jesus and Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” — Mark 10:13-16. In Matthew 18:1-5, when the disciples ask Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus replied “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Those to me are the essence of why I do what I do as a CCLS.

5. Who should apply?

Students who are interested in working with children and families in healthcare and trauma settings, including those facing stressful situations. Anyone who is interested in educating families and advocating for children.

4. What is the advantage for current students or alumni to look into this program?

• Flexibility scheduling - Evening classes, full and part-time options, rolling admissions

• Housed in the Department of Psychology, which emphasizes research and therapeutic skills

• Supportive faculty mentors and availability of faculty

• 18 months completion time saving time and money

• International practicum experiences option

• Seniors have an opportunity to take up to 3 graduate courses during their senior year towards MS in Child Life program…..saving money and time

• Graduate application waived for APU students and potential discounts for tuition (depending on available funds)

5. What else should we know about the MS in Child Life?

The field of CL is progressing and it’s an exciting adventure. Consider our MS in Child Life program! We’re here to help prepare students for this field, whether in healthcare settings or non-hospital settings working with children and families. If students are interested in working with children/families, to consider this as their field of study. Contact me, cvasquez@apu.edu, for questions or learn more about the field of Child Life, the roles of Child Life Specialists.

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