M.S., Human Development and Family Studies, Central Michigan University
B.S., Child Development, Central Michigan University
Justin Petkus is an American & Luxembourgish global service-oriented dually certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and Family Life Educator (CFLE), and a registered psychologist with the Société Luxembourgeoise de Psychologie (SLP). He is a Co-Founder and Emeritus of the global non-profit organization: Pediatric Potential Inc., where he served as the Vice Chair & Director of Partnerships and co-developed the Pediatric Patient's Hierarchy of Developmental Needs (PPHDN) model. In 2018, he was named Family Life Educator of the Year by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) in special recognition of his research and practice, and in 2019 The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) recognized Mr. Petkus as the annual research award recipient.
Justin served children and families in both clinical and prevention based education roles within hospital and community settings. He has participated in program development, research projects, educator, and leadership development opportunities within these settings. He is an expert in therapeutic interventions to help children cope with psychological distress and fear related to healthcare experiences, and is an international consultant, speaker, instructor, and researcher in pediatric psychosocial care, child development, and family science. Mr. Petkus' clinical training and rotations in pediatric psychosocial care/child life were completed at Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA & Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Additional experience while in training was acquired within the pediatric unit of Hospital General Dr. Aurelio Valdivieso in Oaxaca, Mexico, and Helen Devos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
Ranging from North America, South East Asia, the Middle East, Polynesia, and Europe, Mr. Petkus has experience providing culturally responsive care to pediatric patients and families. In one of his latest assignments, Mr. Petkus was invited by Bavarian hospital director Prof. Dr. Christoph Klein to contribute to the development and implementation of the first Child Life Specialist service at one of the largest and oldest academic medical centers in Germany, at LMU Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital in Munich. He authored "Ein deutsches Modell aus dem Child Life Specialist Programm" and was responsible for training and mentoring the first team of German Child Life Specialists, leading to international recognition via a scholarship issued by the Association of Child Life Professionals and a sustainable new pediatric service. Prior, Mr. Petkus co-implemented the first sustainable Child Life Service in Qatar, where he clinically practiced and integrated pediatric psychosocial care practices and policies into multiple systems of care within the state's public healthcare system at Hamad Medical Corporation, leading to recognition of the profession by the Ministry of Health. There, he co-authored: "Supporting Families and Children in Hospital: Policies and Practical Approaches to Pediatric Psychosocial Care," published by the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI). He also trained the first and only Child Life Specialist in Laos, at Laos Friends Hospital for Children in Luang Prabang, who received recognition by the Association of Child Life Professionals as an international scholarship recipient in Washington, D.C.
Justin specializes in advancing outcomes for children and families within the unique cultural contexts of healthcare settings around the world. As a researcher, he served as the primary investigator on a multidisciplinary study in a Middle Eastern pediatric emergency center resulting in the 2023 publication in Children's Health Care entitled: "Parental Holding to Manage Children's Anxiety with Venipuncture: Experiences from Qatar." Following consultation on the ground at pediatric hospitals in Gaza and Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine, he co-authored a needs-based assessment for child life services at pediatric hospitals in the country.
Mr. Petkus has presented at and served as an expert panelist on pediatric psychosocial care and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on the developing brain of the child at international conferences in South America, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. Justin is dedicated to fostering networks of resources and support for NGOs, hospitals, and clinics that enhance their ability to strengthen pediatric psychosocial outcomes globally.
Justin is also experienced in early-childhood development, prevention, and intervention. In the United States, he designed and implemented the first Family Life Education model in Early Head Start (EHS) Home Visiting. He led the restructuring of an EHS home visiting department integration of a seamless birth to 5 agency model. He contributed a chapter for the NCFR textbook: Family Life Education, The Practice of Family Science, where he published "A First Hand Account of Implementing a Family Life Education Model: Intentionality in Head Start Home Visiting." He also served as foreword author for the book: "Transforming Early Head Start Home Visiting: A Family Life Education Approach."
In his home in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Mr. Petkus co-developed and co-led the first Family Science and Social Work workshop at the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center (MUDEC) entitled: "European Perspectives on Support for Children, Families, and Communities." He is a strong advocate for child life services and FSW in the nation, where he published: "Implementing a Rights Based Approach to Child Health in Luxembourg: 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child" and regularly facilitates sustainable partnerships and dialogue with government ministers and ministries, and non-governmental child, youth and family-centered organizations for enhanced university cross-cultural engagement in the Luxembourgish community via service-learning, internships, and child life and FSW related collaboration.
As a PhD Candidate, Justin specialized in Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Luxembourg in the Institute for Health and Behaviour within the Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences. He also completed doctoral coursework in Human Sciences with a specialization in Global Family Health and Wellbeing within the Global Consortium for International Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies.
- Luxembourg Society of Psychology (SLP)
- European Association for Children in Hospital (EACH)
- Association of Child Life Professionals, Inc. (ACLP)
- National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)
- International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health (ISSOP)
- Pediatric Potential Inc.
- European Children’s Hospital Organisation (ECHO)
Child Life Specialist, Pediatric Psychosocial Care, Family Science, International Service-Learning, Comfort Positioning, Child Rights, Family Life Education
Adolescent Development from a European Perspective, European Perspectives on Support for Children, Families, and Communities Workshop