Child Life Practicum, Child Life Internships & How They Fit with HDFS 4301

The Child Life Practicum is designed as an introductory experience for individuals interested in pursuing a career in child life. Through experiential learning and observation of Certified Child Life Specialists┬«, child life practicum students begin to increase their knowledge of evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation and education that support and reduce fear, anxiety and pain for infants, children, youth, and families as they cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury and treatment. Through these experiences, child life practicum students will enhance their knowledge of the child life profession and investigate the process of applying child life and developmental theory to practice.

The Child Life Internship is typically full-time, hands-on, and required to meet the eligibility requirements for the child life certification exam. Most internships are unpaid. Internships are experience-based and are designed to teach and develop independent skills of child life practice. Individuals are expected, by the conclusion of the internship, to be able to function as job-ready, competent child life professionals. Internships are very competitive. Applicants are not always offered placements the first time they apply. In fact, it is common for applicants to apply to more than one internship program and for more than one semester/application cycle before receiving an offer. There are far more applicants than available internship placements in any given semester. It is not unusual for an applicant to relocate temporarily to accept an internship offer.

Child Life Practicums (typically around 150 hours) are often completed as an undergrad student before graduation, and Child Life Internships (typically around 600 hours) are usually completed in the last semester of undergraduate work or the semester following graduation. Sometimes, a Child Life Practicum is a prerequisite for a Child Life Internship. Students should research specific Child Life program requirements at the sites they intend to apply to determine if this is the case.

If a student finds a hospital/site that offers a Child Life Practicum or a Child Life Internship, the student may use either as their HDFS 4301 Internship placement site. The student would register for the HDFS 4301 course to be taken during the semester they complete their Child Life Practicum or Child Life Internship, complete all course assignments/meet course requirements, and then use the Child Life Practicum or Child Life Internship hours as their HDFS 4301 internship course hours. Since the HDFS 4301 Internship course has a minimum requirement of 150 hours, students would need to earn at least 150 hours at the site to meet the requirements of the HDFS Internship course. For example, if the minimum at the Child Life Practicum site the student selected is 120 hours, they would need to complete over the minimum and earn at least 150 hours at the Child Life Practicum site to satisfy the Child Life Practicum site requirements and HDFS 4301 course requirements.