Date of Award

Winter 2022


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in Child Life


Children's Studies


Childhood abuse and neglect is currently a prevalent issue in our society. Children who do not receive adequate support and ongoing services experience lasting impacts on their mental health and ability to cope with future events. Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) are community-based agencies that promote the intervention of childhood abuse and neglect. This setting, paired with the tailored support of Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS), is an under-researched yet promising combination of services that can encourage the healing process for these children and their families. This study aims to understand the role of CCLSs in a CAC and how their support can impact children and families. Using a comparative case study approach, in-depth information was gathered for two separate CACs that employ CCLSs full-time. Content analysis of the interview data revealed ten themes: 1) CCLS collaborates and communicates with different populations, 2) CCLS provides preparation and support, 3) CCLS meets psychosocial needs, 4) CCLS supports the family as a whole, 5) CCLS role is multifaceted, 6) CCLS engages in opportunities to improve practice, 7) CCLS enhances the goals of the CAC, 8) Children and families are grateful for CCLS role, 9) Children have positive experiences with CCLS support, and 10) Families have positive experiences with CCLS support. These findings prompt discussion on the importance of adding child life to the multidisciplinary team at CACs throughout the United States.