Career in Child Life

Exploring the Child Life profession

Interested in a career in Child Life, but not sure where to start? Check out these available resources.

1. If you are interested in gaining more experience working with children and families in a pediatric healthcare setting, please visit our Volunteer Services website for requirements and application information.

2. To find out more information about the Child Life profession (education requirements, related fieldwork, student resources, requirements for certification), please visit Association of Child Life professionals.

3. Due to patient confidentiality and infection control, we do not offer a Job Shadow experience with the Child Life program. We do offer a "Chat with the Child Life Specialist" to high school seniors and college students who are actively working towards a career in Child Life.

Child Life Practicum

Important update as of October 1, 2019: The Summer 2020 Practicum Experience will be offered. Please see deadline and offer dates below as modifications have been made. Further questions/concerns can be directed to at this time. Thank you for your understanding during this transition.  

Child Life offers a six-week, 100-hour practicum experience. The practicum is offered during the summer semester beginning the first full week in June. This experience provides an introduction to the role of the Child Life Specialist within the hospital setting. The goal of the practicum experience is to create the foundation needed for a successful transition into a formal Child Life internship.

Program objectives

Through observation, evaluation, and partnership with the Child Life team, the student will:

  • Use theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom setting and implement into daily practice
  • Engage in opportunities that allow for increased communication skills with patients, families, and members of the healthcare team
  • Plan and facilitate therapeutic play opportunities for pediatric patients and their families
  • Observe the Child Life Specialist during formal preparation sessions and common medical procedures
  • Collaborate and communicate with the multi-disciplinary healthcare team
  • Participate in experiences that will allow for continued ability to assess children (infant through adolescence) focusing specifically on the impact of pain and illness on pediatric patients
  • Self-evaluate experiences and develop continued goals for learning
  • Participate in additional learning opportunities as appropriate


  • Weekly journal
  • Completion of comprehensive readings coinciding with modules
  • Observation and assessment of various Child Life interventions (e.g. healing environment, procedural support, preparation) for patients in each of the developmental stages
  • Plan and facilitate one group activity
  • Completion of developmental assessments
  • Self-evaluation and evaluation of experience

Minimum requirements

  • College-level junior (completion of second semester of junior year) by practicum start date
  • Enrolled in Child Life or child development-related course of study
  • Minimum of an overall 3.0 GPA
  • Unofficial transcript (include a transcript from each institution attended)
  • Resume
  • Documentation of a minimum of 100 hours working with children and families in settings/capacities such as hospitals, daycare facilities, camps, schools, sports, etc.
  • Proof of current immunization record, CPR certification, and background check (required before start date)


Important information

  • Incomplete applications and applications received after postmark date will not be considered.
  • All applicants will be contacted regarding the status of their application after the reviewing process has been completed. Please do not inquire by phone or email about your application status before this time.
  • Applicants must be affiliated with a university/college.
  • Per the practicum standards of conduct, students are allotted one personal day throughout the six week experience. Additional missed days (e.g. vacation, employment) are strongly discouraged; however, national holidays are reserved as days off.
  • As we strongly believe that students should gain a plethora of experience, those who complete a Child Life Practicum at Children's Wisconsin will not be eligible to apply for the internship program.

Deadlines and offer dates

  • Application submission period: December 15th - February 1
  • Application deadline: Postmarked by February 1
  • Application review period: Month of February
  • Interview period: First two weeks of March
  • Offer date: Third week of March
  • Acceptance date: the following Tuesday

Child Life Internship

Children's Wisconsin's Child Life program offers a comprehensive, hands-on internship that cultivates the knowledge and skillset required to become an entry level Child Life Specialist. Interns who participate in this sixteen week experience (640 clinical hours) have the opportunity to develop clinical skills in preparation, procedural support, assessment, play techniques, and education.

Internship Overview

Our internship experience is comprised of the following:

Week 1: General Orientation
Week 2-7: First Six Week Rotation (assigned)
Week 8: Student Choice
Week 9-14: Second Six Week Rotation (assigned)
Week 15-16: Independent Rotation (assigned)

Interns work under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist during all rotations. Additional learning opportunities assist the intern in building knowledge and understanding of competencies outlined by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP).

The Child Life intern is responsible for:

  • Serving as an advocate and voice for patients and families with all members of the healthcare team
  • Recognizing the family as an individual unit – incorporating age, developmental level, previous medical experience, family support system, and cultural considerations in assessment and intervention
  • Planning and implementing therapeutic play activities for patients on an individual basis and in a group setting
  • Having an understanding of the medical condition (including potential needs and limitations of the individual patient) when developing a detailed plan of care
  • Assisting the patient in understanding and accepting the hospital experience while promoting a healthy attitude toward illness
  • Sharing observations of patient's behavior and interactions with appropriate staff (e.g., supervisor, members of the healthcare team, etc)
  • Attending and actively participating in educational in-services presented by child life staff/invited speakers
  • Completing all internship-based assignments/projects (learning modules, daily journal, large and small group activities, observational forms, two case studies, in-service presentation, site interviews, final project)
  • Incorporating information gathered from ACLP resources (e.g. EBP statements, Code of Ethical Responsibilities, Child Life Mission, Vision and Values, etc) to guide practice and the facilitation of interventions supported by research and evidence

Candidate Requirements

To be eligible for our internship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Senior in college or graduate student
  • Affiliated with a college/university
  • Majoring in child life, child development or a related field of study
  • Achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.0, at minimum
  • Worked 150 documented hours with well infants, children, youth, and families
  • Worked 150 documented hours with infants, children, youth, and families in healthcare settings and/or stressful situations
  • Obtained an official ACLP Eligibility Assessment Report
  • Obtained valid CPR Certification (required if accepted for internship)

Application Process

Should you meet the outlined criteria and remain interested in this experience, please submit the following documents to

  • ACLP Common Child Life Internship application (include the listed additional application materials)
  • (2) Common Recommendation forms
  • Confirmation of Child Life Course In-Progress (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of Child Life In-Progress: Additional Courses (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of Child Life Practicum In-Progress (if applicable)
  • Verification of Child Life Practicum Experience Hours (if applicable)
  • Verification of Related Experience Hours (for well and healthcare/stressful situations experiences)
  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Unofficial Transcript(s) from all attended colleges/universities

Important Note:

When submitting your application, please label your individual documents using the title of the document, the first initial of your first name, your full last name, and the internship cycle.

Example: Jane Doe Thomas applied for internship cycle Fall 2019
Common App = CommonAppJDThomasF2019
Course In-Progress = CourseInProgressJDThomasF2019

Example: Intern Moore applied for internship cycle Winter/Spring 2018
Resume = ResumeIMooreWS2018
Unofficial Transcript = UnofficialTranscriptIMooreWS2018

Deadlines and Acceptance Dates

As an accredited internship program, we follow the internship application deadlines as recommended by the ACLP for the fall and winter/spring semesters.

Fall Semester:

  • Application deadline: March 15
  • Initial offer date: 1st Tuesday of May
  • Acceptance date: Following Wednesday
  • Second offer date: Following Thursday


  • Application deadline: Sept. 5
  • Initial offer date: 2nd Tuesday of October
  • Acceptance date: Following Wednesday
  • Second offer date: Following Thursday

All application documents must be submitted by 11:59p.m. (CST) on the respective deadline to be accepted for review.

Additional Information

  • Interns are responsible for transportation to and from internship site
  • Interns are responsible for coordinating housing arrangements 
  • Interns are not required to pay any expenses related to the clinical portion of the internship
  • Interns who identify as graduate students will have some additional expectations to be discussed if selected for experience 
  • Internship candidate interviews will be held via virtual platform or by phone at this time

Important: Children’s Wisconsin’s Child Life program is committed to facilitating a quality learning experience for future child life professionals. While we have a tentative plan to resume internship opportunities in Winter/Spring 2021, there is a possibility for cancellation. Prospective interns would be notified immediately should this happen.

To make an appointment, call the number below or use the "request an appointment" button to submit your request online.

(414) 607-5280

Toll-free (877) 607-5280

Request an appointment

Haga clic aquí para ver esta página en español.

Access appointment information and medical records, manage prescriptions, and message your child's doctor. Visit MyChart.


Discover CHW is a free app that helps you find your way around Children's Wisconsin's Milwaukee campus and provides you with valuable information for your stay.