“Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events. Armed with a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s well being depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.”
We believe our child life skills and expertise has a unique value within the field of disaster relief. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (2015), the best evidence-based interventions for children after a disaster include the following:
- Implemented by individuals who are trained and have experience working with crisis, disaster response, PTSD, and children’s grief responses.
- Culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, shaped by survivors’ needs, allow children to resume familiar roles and responsibilities (such as going to school and having children engage in developmentally appropriate tasks), include parents and other caregivers, and provide economic relief for families, as well as assistance in obtaining health care.
- Focused on encouraging children to express their feelings about the event, discussing normal reactions, and teaching problem-solving skills.
- Inclusive of psycho-educational programs for anxiety management and coping skills, and modifying the child’s erroneous and maladaptive attributions.
American Psychological Association, Impact of Terrorism & Disasters