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Child Life FAQs

Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about our Child Life Student Programs.

What is child life?

Our child life specialists work with infants, children, youth, and families to make their visit to the medical center easier and more comfortable. For more information about the child life profession, please visit the Cook Children's Child Life department webpage or the website for the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Can I shadow a child life specialist?

Due to privacy restrictions and infection control reasons we do not allow individuals to shadow our child life staff. Please consider attending the Child Life Workshop.

Difference between practicum and an internship?

The child life practicum is typically an observation of the hospitalized child, working alongside a child life specialist. The goal of the child life practicum experience is to familiarize the student with the hospital environment and to connect what they are learning in the classroom to real life experiences. Child life practicum offers you time to build your passion and begin to explore your beliefs about the needs of children in the health care system.

The internship is 600 hours of clinical skill development. Our internship is for people whose career goal is to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. This provides the student the opportunity to have a hands-on approach and learn child life skills through experience and with guidance from a Certified Child Life Specialist. The internship is the final step in establishing eligibility to sit for the certification exam. As an ACLP Accredited internship site, we follow all ACLP guidelines and internship curriculum modules.

What is the average salary of a child life specialist like?

Click here to view the most recent salary survey results from the Association of Child Life Professionals.

What are the dates for student programs?

We offer comprehensive training opportunities three times a year, beginning in:

  • January
  • May
  • September

However, the specific dates will vary from semester to semester.

How long is your child life practicum?

Our child life practicum program is approximately 13-weeks long. This is a 16-hour per week experience. Due to COVID-19, our child life practicum is currently suspended.

How long is your internship?

Our internship program is approximately 15-weeks long. This is a 40-hour per week experience.

Do you offer a paid internship?

Our internship is not a paid experience.

Can my child life practicum hours count toward my 480 hours
of clinical experience required by the Association of Child Life Professionals
to be eligible for the certification exam?

No. Child life practicum hours are different than internship hours. The child life practicum is a time for observation and knowledge development. Internship is a time to learn how to function independently as a child life specialist.

Should I volunteer, complete a child life practicum, and do an internship at the same hospital?

We encourage students to look at a variety of programs. Different hospitals have different atmospheres, specialties, cultures, and program designs. Experience in different programs will have a positive impact on your growth as a professional and your personal philosophy of child life.

Do you allow your child life practicum students to apply for your internship?

We do not accept internship applications from students who participated in our child life practicum program. Completing your child life practicum and internship experiences at different hospitals is enriching; it gives you a broader view of the field and helps you begin to formulate your personal philosophy of child life.

Do I have to complete a child life practicum in order to apply for your internship?

Yes. The child life practicum offers you the opportunity to make sure this environment is for you and offers you some experience with children who have medical needs. Often students who complete a child life practicum stand out on applications and are more prepared in interviews.

Do I have to be affiliated with a university to participate in your child life practicum
or internship?

Not at all, we accept both affiliated and unaffiliated students into our student programs. For affiliated students, a signed Affiliation Agreement must be in place with your university before your student experience can begin. For unaffiliated (independent) students, you must sign an Individual Education Experience Agreement before your student experience can begin. Both of these are initiated once a student is accepted into our program.

I have experience working as a child life assistant or activity coordinator. Do I still need
to complete a child life practicum before applying for the internship?

Yes. It is our position that a child life practicum student has learning opportunities that are not inherent to the role of a child life assistant. While experience as a child life assistant is valuable, it is not necessarily ample preparation for a child life internship.

I am considering a career change and I think that Child Life would be a great fit for me.
What do I need to do?

First, spend some time exploring the website of our professional organization, the Association of Child Life Professionals. The most current information on our field is available there. No matter your previous experiences, you will be required to complete the same student pathway as others who are entering the field. That might mean starting to volunteer at a children's hospital, for example. Second, attend the Child Life Workshop. Information about that event is on our main student page.

What is the typical schedule for an Internship student?

Weekdays during regular business hours (hours may vary slightly depending on the needs of a particular unit). Certain individual rotations may require an intern to work some evenings and/or weekends.

Can I do the internship on the weekends and evenings?

There are only a few rotations offered during the internship that provide a student opportunity outside of traditional hours. We cannot guarantee placement in any of these rotations. Students must be available for internship during regular weekday business hours.

Can I still work at my full-time job during my Internship?

The internship places the same demands on an individual as a full-time job. It is not recommended that you continue to work at another location during this experience.

Do you hire your interns?

We have hired students who have completed their practicum or intern experiences at Cook, but there is never a guarantee that a student will be hired into our program. The retention rate in this department is high so we don't often have open positions. When positions are open, we always look for the best fit between applicant and position. We often look at personality, experiences in the field, experience with a certain population of patients, work ethic and style, and many other variables when making a hiring decision.

Do you provide housing for your students?

Once accepted into the program, students are responsible for securing their own housing. Many students stay with friends or relatives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Others use an apartment locator service.

Do your students have assigned parking on hospital property?

Yes. Students typically park in a hospital parking area.