Child Life Practicum and Internship Programs

The Child Life Program at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital operates within the Department of Women and Children’s Services as an integral part of the pediatric care team. The program consists of a manager, as well as Certified Child Life Specialists with Bachelors or Masters Degrees in various fields such as child life, child development, family studies, human development, psychology or a related field working with children. The Child Life Arts for Healing program has a coordinator in addition to an art therapist, music therapists and Artists-in-Residence.

Child life specialists function as interdisciplinary team members focusing on the psychosocial needs of hospitalized infants, children, and adolescents. Child life specialists work in all pediatric inpatient areas, several pediatric outpatient areas and have a presence in adult outpatient areas where pediatric patients are served.

We offer both a child life practicum and a child life internship. The practicum is designed to expose students to the field of child life, whereas the internship is an intensive clinical experience that trains students to practice as an entry-level child life specialist.

Child Life

The Child Life Practicum Program provides college/university students with the fundamental learning blocks to the child life profession and pediatric hospitalization (policies, procedures, etc.). The student is widely exposed to the child life profession through observation and supervised participation in child life interventions/activities. This is designed to prepare the student for an intensive, career-oriented training experience in child life or a closely related field. Practicum opportunities are currently offered as a 12-week, 120-140 hours placement during Fall or Spring semesters.

Practicum Application Requirements and Deadlines

The following requirements must be met at time of application:
  • Enrollment in a college/university program (undergraduate or graduate) related to the field of child life, child development, human development, family studies, or psychology.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
  • Successful completion of a minimum of 3 college-level courses within any combination of the following subject areas: child life, child development, family studies, human development, psychology, sociology, counseling, education, expressive therapies, or therapeutic recreation.

Practicum Instruction for Requesting an Application

Please contact the Child Life Practicum Coordinator for an informational packet which contains our application. Each application is reviewed by the Child Life Practicum Coordinator upon receipt. In keeping with the deadlines on the chart below, you will be notified if your application will be considered for the interview process. The informational packet and application is available to you via mail or e-mail.

When contacting the Practicum Coordinator, please provide the following information:

  • Which college/university you are affiliated with and what is your course of study?
  • Do you have previous hospital experience (work or volunteer)?
  • For which semester are you applying (Fall or Spring)?
  • What has influenced your decision to apply to the Child Life Practicum Program at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital?
  • What mailing address/email address would you like to receive the informational packet?

Contact Information

Erica Bailey, M.Ed., CCLS, CTRS, CIMI, CEIM
Child Life Practicum Coordinator
Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital
Child Life Department SP 7-414
20 York Street
New Haven, CT 06510

Phone: 203-688-2336 ext. 2
Email: Erica.Bailey@ynhh.org

Practicum Application Deadlines

Fall Semester
Application Deadline: March 1st
Acceptance Deadline: May 1st
Months of Placement: September to December

Spring Semester
Application Deadline: November 1st
Acceptance Deadline: November 1st
Months of Placement: January to April

The Child Life Internship Program is a 16-week, 600-hour internship that provides individuals with the clinical and professional experiences needed to enter the field of child life. Under the supervision of a team of Certified Child Life Specialists, an intern will learn about all aspects of child life, including therapeutic play, procedural preparation and support, coping techniques, bereavement, and parental and sibling support. At the completion of the internship, an intern will be eligible to sit for the Child Life Council certification exam and will be prepared to practice as an entry-level child life specialist.

Internship Application Requirements and Deadlines

The following requirements must be met at time of application:
  • Enrollment in or completion of a degree program (undergraduate or graduate) focused in the fields of child life, child development, family studies, human development, psychology or a related field working with children. Official transcripts are due at time of application. Please contact your registrar and have transcripts sent directly to us or include them with your application. We contract with colleges as well as individual learners.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
  • Successful completion of a minimum of 10 college-level courses that meet the requirements of the Child Life Council. Applicants must submit their transcripts to the Child Life Council for an eligibility assessment. Official documentation from the Child Life Council regarding assessment results is required at time of application. Applicants with fewer than 10 accepted classes will not be considered for placement and the enrollment in future classes will not be counted toward the requirement. *
      Additionally, the Child Life Program at YNHCH requires that a minimum of 5 courses meet the following criteria:
    • One course must be an introductory child life course taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist. This course must be COMPLETED by the application deadline and verified by submitting a CLC Course Verification Form in your application packet. In order to satisfy the CLC’s definition of a child life course, the following six topics must be covered: Child Life Documents, scope of child life practice, impact of illness, injury and health care on patients and families, family-centered care, therapeutic play, and preparation.
    • One course (in addition to the introductory child life course) must be related to child life practice. Some examples include: development of play, death and dying, learning and children, special needs, crisis intervention, or children and humor.
    • At least one course in child development.
    • One course on family systems/relationships.
    • One course on diversity and cultural competence.
  • A minimum of 200 hours of practicum, volunteer, or work experience. At least 100 of these hours must be a child life practicum experience in a hospital setting directly under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. The remaining 100 hours must also represent experience with infants, children and/or families but does not necessarily have to take place in a healthcare setting. All 200 hours must be completed by the application deadline. Proof of practicum hours on hospital letterhead must accompany your application.
  • Three original signed letters of recommendation submitted in sealed signed envelopes. Two letters should demonstrate work with children and families and one should demonstrate academic performance. Individuals who have directly observed you and/or your work should complete recommendations.
  • NOTE: Candidates are required to be CPR certified at least one month prior to start of internship. The course must be the “Healthcare Provider” level and must cover infant and children. Proof of certification requested upon acceptance to internship program.

* Please refer to the Child Life Council’s internship candidate requirements for specifications and recommended course work.

Internship Application Deadlines

Fall Semester
Application Deadline: Postmarked by March 15th
Offer Deadline: 1st Tuesday of May
Acceptance Deadline: Following Wednesday
Internship Start Date: Early September
Internship End Date: Mid-December

Winter/Spring Semester
Application Deadline: Postmarked by September 5th
Offer Deadline: 2nd Tuesday of October
Acceptance Deadline: Following Wednesday
Internship Start Date: Mid-January
Internship End Date: End of April

To obtain a complete application packet, please contact:
Caitlin Leary MS CCLS CEIM/CIMI CPST
Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital
Child Life Program, SP 7-414
20 York Street
New Haven, CT 06510

**Email: caitlin.leary@ynhh.org
**Email is the preferred method of correspondence. However, if you would rather speak to a member of the Internship Committee please call Victoria Isaacson at 203-688-5485.

What level of education do I need to be eligible for a child life internship?
An applicant needs to have at least a bachelor's or master’s degree (or enrolled in coursework leading to a bachelor's or master’s degree) in child life or a related field (including but not limited to child development, family studies, human development, psychology, etc.). However, several courses are needed for acceptance to the internship program. Please review the internship requirements above for more specifics.

Do I have to be affiliated with a college/university to complete my internship?
We contract with colleges/universities for enrolled students completing their bachelor's or master's degrees. For individuals who have already earned their bachelor's or master's degree, the contract is between Yale New Haven Hospital and the individual learner. Non-affiliated students must purchase their own professional liability insurance.

Are there fees/expenses associated with the internship?
There is no fee to apply to the internship, which is an unpaid position. Educational materials are provided and administrative costs are covered by the hospital. Interns are provided a meal voucher and parking during their internship work day, and interns are eligible for a 15% food discount in the cafeteria with photo ID. Interns are also responsible for their own housing and living expenses while in New Haven. Child life interns are able to apply for housing in the graduate dormitories associated with Yale School of Medicine and Yale University. The child life intern coordinators have housing resources that will be shared upon acceptance to the program.

What can best prepare me for the internship?
We require a minimum of 200 hours of practicum, volunteer, or work experience. At least 100 of these hours must be a child life practicum experience in a hospital setting directly under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. This exposure will provide the opportunity to observe the role of a child life specialist and help you solidify your own commitment to the field of child life.

What happens after my application is received?
Each application is reviewed by the Child Life Internship Committee upon receipt. In keeping with the deadlines mentioned above, you will be notified if your application is going forward to the interview process. We require those within 100 miles of New Haven to interview on-site. Parking will be validated the day of the interview; all other travel expenses are the responsibility of the applicant.

What can I expect as a Child Life Intern?
Our goal during the 16-week (600 hour) internship is to provide a professional level, clinical experience that will prepare you to enter the field of child life. As an intern, you will work 40 hours a week following the same schedule as your supervisor(s). The hours are typically during the daytime, although they may vary with supervisor schedules as well as special programming that might occur during the evening. In this way, you will acquire the most realistic and consistent working experience to prepare you to be a child life specialist.