Date of Award

Spring 8-30-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Genevieve Lowry


Certified Child Life Specialists are professionals with a background in child development who traditionally provide psychosocial support to children and families in a pediatric healthcare environment (Pearson, 2005). According to the last job analysis done in 2013, 92% of child life specialists identify as White and Non-Hispanic (438 out of 476 respondents). Compared to an ever-diversifying patient population, the field of child life can be considered homogenous in terms of racial representation. Considering the racial homogeneity of the field and the potential impact of implicit biases, increasing the diversity of child life specialists would be beneficial to the development of the field. However, due to the reported effects of social capital and a lack of social networking for future child life specialists of color, there are many barriers to enter the field (Bourdieu, 1986). The purpose of this non-experimental, quantitative research study conducted using a survey is to determine relationships between race and how certified child life specialists learned about and chose to pursue a career in child life. The results of the survey sent out to members of the Association of Child Life Professionals forum was that 89.9% of participants identified as White with the remainder of the participants identifying as non-White or biracial (10.1%). The means by which child life specialists both of color and White learned about the field were varied, although 13% of specialists were exposed to the field through relationships with friends. Considering the Social Capital Theory, diversifying the field will require an increase of recruiting efforts as well as structuring opportunities for mentorship (Bourdieu, 1986).


Child Life Online