Have you heard about the role of a Child Life Specialist? Many of us are under the misconception that Child Life Specialists only work in hospital settings and are tasked with playing with children as they await a procedure or treatment. Nothing could be further from the truth. In both healthcare and community settings, Certified Child Life Specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. They provide evidence-based, developmentally, and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. There are several misconceptions about the Child Life Profession (www.childlife.org). In several CAC’s across the United States, Child Life Specialists are playing an important role in the victim advocacy services provided to children and families.
In this episode, I had the opportunity to learn about the Child Life profession and how it can be incorporated into the CAC world from Annie Drehkoff of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. Annie has a wealth of experience working with children and families and shows us how adding Child Life Specialists to CAC can have great value to the children and families being served as well as the entire CAC team.
Annie Drehkoff, MS, CCLS is the Child Life Manager at Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. She has over 10 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of settings, which include early childhood education and child life services at pediatric hospitals and outpatient facilities. At Chicago CAC, she oversees the Child Life Department, which promotes effective coping among children and families impacted by sexual abuse through play, preparation, and other support interventions. She received her MS in Child Development, with the Child Life specialization, from Erikson Institute in 2012 and is a Certified Child Life Specialist.
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Disclaimer: This project was sponsored by NRCAC from Grant Award Number 2019-CI-FX-K005 and CFDA #16.758 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, OJJDP or NRCAC.