About Us


What is Child Life?

  • Supervise therapeutic and diversional play.
  • Prepare children for and assist children during medical tests and procedures through education, rehearsal, and coping skill.
  • Support families during hospitalization or challenging events.
  • Learn more at www.childlife.org



California Association for Child Life Professionals 501(c) (CACLP) was
organized to provide a statewide forum serving child life professionals, to promote the child life profession and competencies, and to enhance the well-being of children and their families in hospital and health 

care settings and in the community. 


History of the CALCP

CACLP was founded in 2006, is a nonprofit public benefit corporation. The corporation is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) & 501(c)(3). The California Association of Child Life Professionals is committed in representing the Child Life profession and creating opportunities to better serve children and their families in the future. The annual CACLP conference is to provide a forum not only in the State of California, but nationally and internationally..

Meet the Board

Linda Garcia, MA, CCLS


Linda has extensive experience of more than 30 years working with hospitalized children and their families. She is a consultant to ICAN/NCFR (National Child Fatality Review), Founder and President of CACLP, and part-time educator to DFCF (Department of Family & Children Services). She has conducted local, national, and international presentations on the topics of child life, grief and loss, cultural awareness, and family violence. She has currently employed at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Medical Center and part-time faculty at (CSUN) California State University, Northridge.

Maria Elena Tomé, CCLS


Maria is a celebrated and known child life leader in California. Maria has dedicated well over 30 years to supporting children, youth and families in coping with their healthcare experiences in her role as a child life specialist both in and outside the hospital walls. Currently, Maria is the Child Life Director at LAC+USC Medical Center where she provides both direct clinical services and leadership to the pediatric practices in the hospital. Maria continues to be recognized for her level of support and dedication to children and families.

Traci Aoki-Tan, CCLS, CTRS, RTC


Traci received a B.S. degree from California State University, Fresno in Recreation Administration and Leisure Studies, with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. She has been a CCLS and TR Specialist for 20 years working with children and adolescents of various populations, including spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation, burn injuries, plastic surgery, medical-surgery, orthopedics, infectious diseases, hematology/oncology, palliative care and hospice. Most recently, she has been working in the hospital in a pediatric and PICU setting. Traci is an active member of the palliative care team. She is currently a board member with the CACLP, a member of the Child Life Council, and board president for Safe Kids Greater Sacramento.

Pamela McLaughlin, MA, CCLS


 Pamela has worked with children for the past 38 years in hospitals, schools and churches. She currently works at a local hospital as a CCLS, in the Central Coast area. Pamela also works with children with special needs, ages 0-3 as an Early Intervention Specialist. 

Cristie Suzukawa, MS, CCLS


 Cristie has 17 years of clinical experience as a Child Life Specialist, working with an extensive variety of patient populations. She has served as a Child Life program director, presented on both local and national levels, facilitated support groups for teens with HIV, co-authored materials for grieving families, developed and introduced Child Life programming to the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and sat on the CLC Education Committee and Public Policy Workgroup. She is currently a Child Life Lead at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, working in the Emergency Department with an emphasis on research and program development. She is the Chair for the CLC Mentor Program for 2017. 

Cammie Woodward, MA, CCLS


 Cammie has been a certified Child Life Specialist for seventeen years working with children and adolescents of various populations including spinal cord injuries, physical medicine and rehabilitation, pulmonology, cardiology, hematology/oncology, and palliative care. She has spent the last nine years focusing her work on pediatric oncology patients in the outpatient setting. 

Kristen Beckler,M.Ed,CTRS, CCLS


 Kristen received a BS degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Education focusing on Recreation Therapy and her M.Ed from the University of Missouri in Information Science and Learning Technologies. She has been a dually certified CCLS and CTRS for over 20 years, spending a majority of her career at Stanford Children’s Health, covering Oncology/ Stem Cell Transplant, Cardiac Surgery/ Transplant and the Pediatric Emergency Department. Kristen currently works at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco covering PICU and is the student coordinator.  On the side, Kristen builds websites from her personal website My Child Life, is the Communications Manager for Child Life United and teaches online Child Life courses at UCSB Extension and at Eastern Washington University. 


Charity Vasquez, MS, CCLS


Charity has been in Child Life field for approximately 20 years and as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) for more than 18 years with career advancement in various leadership roles, including more than 7 years in management as Child Life Manager at University of California Irvine Medical Center prior to joining Azusa Pacific University (APU) in 2017 as faculty and Director for MS in Child Life program. Charity received her Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Child Life, and Master of Science degree in Child Development both from the University of La Verne. As a CCLS, she provided Child Life services to infants, children, youth, and families both in healthcare settings and in non-traditional settings. In addition to her years of experiences as Certified Child Life Specialist, she has accumulated more than 17 years of college teaching experiences at various 2- and 4- year colleges and universities teaching child life and child development related courses to undergraduate and graduate level students. Charity is active in the community representing Child Life, both in healthcare and academic realm, participating in various committees, including several ACLP committees, and now a board member with the CACLP. She is passionate about global child life work and is motivated to contribute to local and global Child Life practices.