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An internship is required to become a certified child life specialist. We offer internships two times a year beginning in January and September. The full-time internship is a 40 hour a week commitment and lasts for 14 weeks. This is usually divided into two seven-week rotations; once these are complete; you may have the option to continue for two additional weeks in an area of your choice.

All interns will be supervised by a certified child life specialist. At this time, we do not provide practicum experiences.

More information about certification and eligibility requirements can be found on the Child Life Council's website.

Application requirements

Prior volunteer work of at least 100 hours under the supervision of a child life specialist is required by the time of the application. Your volunteer experience confirms your dedication to child life before committing to a full-time internship, while also providing you with important skills and an increased comfort level in the hospital setting. Child life practicum hours are considered an acceptable substitution for the volunteer hours requirement.

If you do not have the required volunteer hours and are interested in volunteering with us, please fill out our online application

Education requirements 

The internship is available to senior-level undergraduate or graduate students with majors in Child Life, Child Development, Family and Human Development, Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Psychology, Recreation Therapy or a closely related degree program. Post–graduate students are also welcome to apply. Applicants who demonstrate high academic achievement will have priority. If required, a contract will be completed by the hospital and college.

Applicants must also meet the coursework criteria required to sit for the Child Life Council certifying exam.

Additional requirements 

All applicants must demonstrate sensitivity to children and their families, the ability to work with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, flexibility and creativity.

Application process

Your application must include the following:

  • Child Life Council Common Application
  • Copy of official Child Life Council Course Work review (found at
  • At least two signed letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a college professor/advisor
  • Verification of at least 100 hours of volunteer work under the supervision of a child life specialist
  • Resume
  • Transcript(s)

Applications must be postmarked by September 5 for the winter session and March 15 for the fall session. Please note that it is your responsibility to confirm that your application has been received.


A personal interview is required.  After the interview you will be given a tour of the hospital. If you reside outside of a 60 mile radius, a phone interview may be conducted.


Selection of child life interns is made on a basis of academics, previous experience working with children in a healthcare or related setting, references and an interview.  Decisions regarding offers are made by the Child Life Internship Committee. Students will be notified of their acceptance into the internship program in writing. 

Health screening

Interns must comply with employee health standards. Vaccination records, a physical report from your doctor and TB test will be required. Details are outlined in the acceptance packet.

School credit

If you wish to receive school credit for your internship, applications will only be considered if your school/university has an existing agreement with Northwell Health. However, we will accept a student if the school does not require such an agreement.

Internship responsibilities


Orientation will include hospital training from the Volunteer Department, on-unit orientation with the intern supervisor and a child life program orientation, during which interns will rotate through each unit/area that child life covers.

Goals and objectives

Develop and complete three to five goals per rotation. Each goal should have at least three objectives.

Daily journal

Maintain a daily journal, which is turned in prior to each weekly supervision session.


Read assigned weekly articles/book chapters. These may be provided by the internship coordinator and/or come from one of the required books. These readings, which will be discussed at weekly reading workshops provided by various child life staff members, are part of the Child Life Council’s recommended clinical learning modules.

Developmental process observations

Complete developmental process recording forms, which will be reviewed at weekly supervision.


Learn how to write chart notes on patients based on assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation of the therapeutic plan. 

Diagnosis paper

Research and write a paper on one diagnosis for each rotation.

Procedural accompaniments

Attend as many procedural accompaniments and implement medical play as much as possible. Two process papers will be required.

Case study

Prepare a case study on a patient following the guidelines that will be provided. The case study will be presented to the child life staff at a department meeting.


Supervisors will complete a formal evaluation of interns during weeks 4, 7, 11 and 14.  Intern will also complete four self-evaluations.

Gap in service project

Complete a child life project, such as creating a preparation book, developing new program ideas or another creative concept. Proposal for plan must be submitted for review and acceptance.

Site visits

Visit two other child life programs. Planning for these visits should begin during the first rotation and take place in the beginning of the second rotation.


Meet weekly with your child life supervisor for one hour of individual supervision regarding issues relative to the on-unit internship experience. 

General advisement

Interns will meet with the internship coordinator weekly as a group for one hour of advisement relative to the general internship experience.


Complete tasks specific to each unit. Attend staff meetings and conferences as requested. Draft and revise your resume and participate in mock interviewing.

Purchase the required books

  • The Handbook of Child Life:  A Guide for Psychosocial Care
    R.H. Thompson, (Eds., 2009)
  • Meeting Children’s Psychosocial Needs Across the Health-Care Continuum J.A. Rollins, R. Bolig, & C.C. Mahan, (Eds, 2005).
  • Psychosocial Care of Children in Hospitals: A Clinical Practice Manual from the ACCH Child Life Research Project L. Gaynard, J. Wolfer, J. Goldberger, R. Thompson, L. Redburn , & L. Laidley (Eds., 1998).