Child Life Program

Because physical and mental activities are an essential part of the healing process, child life specialists at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children work at the bedside and in playrooms to help patients have positive experiences during their hospital stays. They have a strong child development background which they use to promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self-expression activities. The specialists provide emotional support for families and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization.

In addition to creative and therapeutic activities for inpatient children, child life specialists actively help patients and families prepare for surgery and procedures. Specialists are available to meet with families of both medical and surgical patients, conduct hospital tours, and explain the upcoming procedures using dolls and terms children can understand.

The Hospital School Program consists of licensed teachers who work with a child's school to coordinate the ongoing education of long-term patients, including the tutoring and schoolwork. This service is available to eligible patients facing long-term hospitalizations or repeated absences from school because of treatments or illnesses.

What can Child Life offer you?

  • Medical play and developmentally appropriate teaching to help kids understand hospitalization and their diagnosis 
  • Emotional support and distraction during procedures and stressful events
  • Age-appropriate toys and activities in playrooms and at bedside
  • Pre-operative teaching and tours
  • Developmental assessments
  • School support by licensed teachers for qualifying patients 
  • Support and education for families and siblings
  • Pet therapy
  • Bereavement support 
  • School re-entry assistance

The department is also responsible for managing the holiday activities for patients, as well as arranging hospital visits from outside groups and individuals to provide activities or entertainment to patients. Please contact the Child Life Department at the phone number below for information regarding group visits.

Volunteers assist the Child Life team with bedside visits and playroom activities.

For more information, contact the Child Life Department at (215) 427-5321. For more information about the child life profession, please visit the Child Life Council website.

Child Life Internship Program 

St. Christopher’s offers a comprehensive competency-based Child Life Internship Program. Child life interns gain knowledge and experience in therapeutic play, diagnostic teaching, medical play including needle play, preparation for procedures and surgery, as well as bereavement and legacy building. During the 18 week program, child life interns rotate through various areas of the hospital to gain knowledge and practical field experiences with a diversified patient population.  We do not offer any student programs during the summer session.

Internship

To submit an application, you must have successfully completed 100 hours of experience with well infants, children, youth and/or families, 100 hour Child Life practicum or volunteer experience working under a Certified Child Life Specialist, child life coursework taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist inclusive of the 6 applied areas of study, as required by the Child Life Council (CLC) and completed the academic course work portion of the CLC eligibility assessment.

We use the Common Internship Application and recommended deadlines for application submission found on the Child Life Council website, www.childlife.org.  In addition to the completed application, we would like you to include: 

  • Two letters of reference
  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Child Life Eligibility Assessment
  • Documentation of completion of Child Life course
  • Documentation of a minimum of 100 accumulated hours of practicum or volunteer experience completed under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist in a hospital or clinic setting (practicum experience is strongly encouraged and preferred) including a letter from your practicum/volunteer coordinator verifying the completion and description of your experience
  • Documentation of 100 hours of experience with well infants, children, youth and/or families

Applications can be sent to:
Child Life Internship Program
St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
160 E. Erie Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19134

Child Life Practicum Program

The practicum program is designed to provide a basic overview of the Child Life field to students or persons interested in Child Life.  Our program provides an introduction to the variety of experiences facing children and adolescents in the hospital environment.  A Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) will supervise the practicum student as he or she observes and/or participates in individual and group activities with children and families.

Practicum students must have completed course work in the areas of child development, and must have demonstrated successful experiences with children.  This type of training is necessary for those who are considering a career as a Child Life Specialist.  Practicum students must complete 8 – 10 hours per week for 14 consecutive weeks. Practicum students rotate throughout the department, shadowing Child Life Specialists from different units for one full day a week, varying hours, until his or her 14 weeks are completed. 

The application process for the Child Life practicum program includes:

  • Completion of Child Life practicum program application
  • Personal phone and/or face-to-face interview will be conducted with top applicants

The deadlines for the Internship Practicum application submission are:

  • Winter/Spring: September 5
  • Fall: March 15

Download a Practicum Student Application here.

Applications can be sent to:
Child Life Internship Program
St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
160 E. Erie Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19134

For more information, please contact the Child Life Program at: SCHCCLIntern@tenethealth.com.