Harding University one of four in the U.S. to receive endorsement for child life degree program

The Harding University Department of Family and Consumer Sciences has earned academic endorsement through 2024 by the Association of Child Life Professionals for its child life undergraduate degree program. This makes Harding one of four undergraduate programs in the nation and the only endorsed program in the state of Arkansas to receive this endorsement.

The child life degree program prepares graduates to be child life specialists. Child life specialists are healthcare professionals highly trained in child development and psychosocial theories. They specialize in working with children, adolescents and family members in helping them cope with and understand stressful and traumatic situations. Child life specialists support patients and their families through developmentally appropriate education, preparation, play and distraction during procedures.

The endorsement from ACLP verifies that the program curriculum meets the academic eligibility requirements for child life certification, allowing students who successfully complete the program to be eligible for the Child Life Professional Certification Exam upon graduation.

“The endorsement from the Association of Child Life Professionals allows incoming and current child life majors in the FCS department know that they are taking courses that meet the requirements necessary to sit for the Child Life Certification Exam,” Brittany Blake, department chair and Certified Child Life Specialist, said. “I believe that students having that assurance provides a huge value to our students, our program and the university as a whole.”

The process to obtain endorsement is voluntary and involves a self-study and external review of the program intended to evaluate, enhance and publicly recognize academic programs that meet the standards prescribed by the ACLP. According to ACLP, the purpose of the process is to promote the interests of students by improving the quality of teaching, learning and professional practice.

Blake championed the process of applying for endorsement with the help of other faculty in the FCS department. While it was a large undertaking, the outcome made it worth the time and effort.

“It involved writing several narratives about the quality and unique aspects of our program and submitting specific documents that were required,” Blake said.

Once all materials were submitted, they had to wait three months to hear the results.

“I was very nervous during that time but elated when we found out we had received the endorsement,” Blake said. “I was proud of our hard work, but I was most excited for our students and what this means for their future journey to becoming Certified Child Life Specialists.”

The University had 307 students in the family and consumer sciences department in 2018, 71 of whom were child life majors.

To learn more about the University’s child life program and other family and consumer sciences programs and services, visit harding.edu/childlife.