Tips for Students interested in the Child Life Profession
- Check the Association of Child Life Professionals website for information before asking general questions of Child Life program directors/leaders about getting into the child life field. Look for information about the profession and preparation for students regarding education, training and certification requirements to meet timelines. Check out these links:
- Join the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) as a student member. Explore the website, join the Student networking opportunities on the ACLP Connect Forum, attend webinars and the ACLP Conference if you can. You can also network with other interested students and child life specialists in your area.
- Plan in advance and look for education and training opportunities to understand what you need to do to compete for the limited spots available for child life internships.
- Volunteer- experience with healthy children of various ages, as well as experience with children/youth with disabilities and/or health conditions will provide you with much needed knowledge and experience with children and youth. This also shows your interest and commitment to working with children, youth and families. (See note on volunteering below)
- Be flexible and remember that child life specialist jobs are very competitive across Canada. You may need to relocate for education, training and jobs. Many positions begin as temporary jobs and this can be the case for several years before getting a permanent position. You may need to be patient.
- Just a reminder that being respectful and friendly in your communication with potential volunteer organizations/departments, student placement sites and hospitals who offer learning opportunities, internships and child life positions goes a long way in strengthening your professional reputation.
Helpful terms to review:
Affiliated and Non- Affiliated are terms used to describe the connection with Universities or colleges. Many healthcare facilities mandate that a legal agreement (an affiliation) must be in place before accepting a student.
Child Life Practicum
Typically, these are shorter, introductory, supervised experiences in a child life setting. Usually, these students are affiliated with a University or college.
Child Life Clinical Internship:
A child life specialist internship currently requires a minimum of 600 hours of child life clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). It provides hands-on experience for individuals who plan to pursue a career in child life and is required for certification. The student receives an opportunity to build on coursework and put theory into practice while working in a variety of hospital and related settings.
Child Life Volunteer Opportunities:
Many health care facilities provide volunteer opportunities in their child life departments. Check websites of facilities that have both Volunteer and child life departments. Usually there is a minimum commitment required for the number of hours for any volunteer role.
Official documents and definitions can be found at: www.childlife.org
In addition for exposure in child life and building a relationship among local child life programs, some educational programs require volunteerism in child life. For an example, the Master's in Child Life & Pediatric Psychosocial Care Stream 1. Entry to the Child Life Practice program at McMaster University requires that applicants complete 100 hours of unpaid experience volunteering in a child life program
*The Association of Child Life Professionals, universities and health care facilities may use specific definitions for their respective institutions. Individuals with an interest in pursuing child life certification should examine the requirements of the Child Life Certifying Committee of the ACLP, in collaboration with university and/or facility supervisors, to ensure requirements can be met.