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Did you know that March is Child Life Month?
This year Salud America! worked with a group of special co-hosts to highlight the child life profession and child life month during one of our #SaludTues tweetchats. Co-hosts for the chat included The HSC Health Care System (@HSCHealthCare); The Association of Child Life Professionals (@AssocChildLife); and Certified Child Life Specialist, Shani Thornton (@Childlifemommy).
During the tweetchat participants discussed the important role that child life specialists play as part of the health care team and ways CCLSs can help improve the quality of care for children from underserved communities.
What is a child life specialist (CCLS)?
Certified child life specialists (CCLSs) work with children to communicate important health care treatment plans and alleviate fears associated with procedures they have to undergo at hospitals and clinics.
For many Latinos, obtaining access to quality health care can be difficult, due to the higher rates of uninsured families and children, according to research from Salud America!. Language and cultural barriers also make it difficult for some Latinos to put their trust in health care professionals. As part of the health care team, CCLSs can help build trust between health care providers and families who are struggling with an illness.
CCLSs can be found in hospitals working with children who are ill and children with parents or siblings who are terminally ill. They can even be found in dentist offices, working to help put children at ease before a dental examination.
6 ways a child life specialist make a difference
The American Academy of Pediatrics lists the following 6 ways that CCLs make a difference:
- promote optimal development;
- educate children and families about health conditions;
- prepare children and families for medical events or procedures;
- plan and rehearse useful coping and pain management strategies;
- help children work through feelings about past or impending experiences; and
- establish therapeutic relationships with patients, siblings, and parents to support family involvement in each child’s care.
How can child life specialists help Latino families?
The value of a CCLS cannot be understated. As researchers are seeing many Latino children face adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) caused by toxic environments and stress. Research shows that family centered care and home visits may boost resiliency in Latino kids and prevent negative outcomes in the future.
Learn more about child life specialists and this area of health care here.
See a recap of Salud America!‘s #SaludTues tweetchat on Child Life Month: