Student opportunities 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

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)
  • Applicants must be affiliated with a university/college
  • Placement is contingent on the ability to complete a contract between CHW and University/College
  • 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.
  • Minimum of 100 hours is recommended, but will be considered on a case by case basis
  • Proof of current immunization record, CPR certification, and background check (required before start date)

Application process

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

*We suggest putting a read receipt on these emails to ensure submissions are received by Children's Wisconsin*

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 practicum cycle.

Example: Jane Doe Thomas applied for practicum cycle Summer 2021

Application = ApplicationJDThomasS2021

Personal Statement = PersonalStatementJDThomasS2021

Example: Student Moore applied for practicum cycle Summer 2020

Relevant Experience = RelevantExSMooreS2020

Recommendation Letters = RecLettersSMooreS2020

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

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.
  • 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.

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 practicum opportunities in Summer 2021, there is a possibility for cancellation. Prospective students would be notified immediately should this happen.

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.

Important update for fall 2023 cycle: At this time, we will be accepting applications for the fall 2023 semester. We acknowledge the potential to have to pause programming should circumstances beyond our control change. All applicants would be notified in the event a change occurs. Children's Wisconsin's child life team is committed to facilitating a quality learning experience for future specialists, and we are anticipating the ability to be able to host one intern for the fall 2023 semester.

Learn more about our child life internship through the experiences of a past intern

Internship overview

Our internship experience is comprised of the following:

Week 1: General orientation
Week 2-8: First seven week rotation (assigned)
Week 9: Choice week (student-driven)
Week 10-16: Second seven week 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
  • Collaborating closely with members of the multidisciplinary team to promote and deliver thorough care
  • Recognizing the family as an individual unit, incorporating age, developmental level, previous medical experience, family support system, and cultural considerations in  provision of services
  • Planning and implementing therapeutic  interventions for patients on an individual basis and/or in a group setting
  • Fostering a patient’s understanding and accepting of the hospital experience
  • Having an understanding of the medical condition (including potential needs and limitations of the individual patient) when developing a detailed plan of care
  • Attending and actively participating in educational in-services/presentations facilitated by child life/creative arts therapies staff or invited speakers
  • Completing all internship-based assignments/projects (e.g. learning modules, daily journal,  group programming, observational forms, case studies, etc)
  • 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
    • Important note: Review of application and potential offer/placement will be contingent upon the ability to secure an affiliation agreement between the respective college/university and Children’s Wisconsin. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss this consideration with their academic or program supervisor/coordinator prior to submitting an application.
  • Majoring in child life, child development or a related field of study
  • Obtained an official ACLP eligibility assessment report (if enrolled in an unendorsed academic program)
  • Obtained valid CPR certification (required if accepted for internship)

Application process

Should you meet the aforementioned criteria and remain interested in this experience, please submit the following documents to and enable the “request a read receipt” feature for confirmation of submission:

  • ACLP readiness common application
  • Personal philosophy of significance of child life pediatric healthcare
  • One letter of recommendation from your academic child life program 

Deadlines and acceptance dates

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

2023 Fall semester:

  • Application deadline: March 15
  • Initial offer date: May 2
  • Acceptance date: May 3
  • Second offer date: May 4

ACLP ACCREDITED INTERNSHIP PROGRAM logo2024 Winter/Spring semester:

  • Application deadline: September 7
  • Initial offer date: October 10
  • Acceptance date: October 11
  • Second offer date: October 12

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
  • As we transition to the new readiness application, we recognize there may be kinks in the process. It is our goal to be patient and flexible with applicants and we seek the same in return.

Experiences of our past interns

Make an appointment

To make an appointment, call our Central Scheduling team or request an appointment online.

(877) 607-5280

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