Date of Award

Spring 4-25-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Genevieve Lowry


Immigrant and refugee children experience and cope with significant traumatic experiences in their countries of origin, in host countries, and during their immigrant or refugee journey, impacting their development and ability to cope with stress. Child life specialists who encounter immigrant and refugee children and families in the healthcare setting have an ethical and professional duty to advocate for the rights of these vulnerable children and families as well as approach clinical work from a strengths-based, culturally competent, patient and family centered, trauma sensitive perspective. This paper endeavors to guide child life work with immigrant and refugee children in the healthcare setting, discussing the details of current political policy, legislation, and their effects on immigrant and refugee children, investigating precedents set by medical and educational institutions for the support of immigrant and refugee children, and recommending actions to scaffold immigrant and refugee children’s resilience from the individual specialist level to the Association for Child Life Professionals policy level based on the application of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory to the role of the child life specialist with immigrant and refugee children.


Child Life Program