At Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, our Child Life Program offers shadowing experiences, summer Practicum experience and internships in the Fall and Spring semesters. Our program strives to immerse, educate and support those exploring and pursuing Child Life careers through these opportunities. Below, you will find information pertinent to each of our student programs we offer. For further questions and information, please contact our Child Life staff.

At this time we are unable to support Recreation Therapy students for internships or practicum experiences. We also do not offer a Summer Child Life internship.


Child Life ACLP logoThe Child Life Program at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital provides direct patient care to approximately 72 inpatient pediatric beds, 42 NICU beds and several outpatient areas that serve pediatric patients.

Our internship offers over 600 hours of clinical time (40 hours a week over 16 weeks) during the spring and fall semesters only. We do not currently offer a summer internship. No more than two interns will be selected for each semester and each intern will complete two rotations in different areas of the hospital. Students will have the opportunity to shadow in units where they are not completing a full rotation.

Interns may have the opportunity to rotate in the following areas:

  • Acute Care
  • Emergency Department
  • Hematology/Oncology (Outpatient and Inpatient)
  • NICU
  • Pediatric Intensive Care/Intermediate Care
  • Radiology
  • Surgery

Requirements for Internship Application

To be considered for the internship, the following criteria must be met: 

  • Senior college level student, graduate student or a non-affiliated applicant with or in pursuit of a degree in one of the following fields:
    • Child Life
    • Child/family/human development 
    • Degrees in Early Childhood Education, Behavioral or Child Psychology, Recreational Therapy and Music therapy may also be considered if appropriate course work has been completed.

Note: Non-affiliated applicants are required to sign a “Letter of Agreement” and purchase liability insurance. Verification of liability insurance will be required.

“Passed” status on the ACLP Eligibility Assessment for all academic requirements (10 academic courses including all six Child life course topics)

Minimum GPA 3.0

150 hours of experience with children in healthcare setting (volunteer, practicum, child life assistant) and/or other stressful situations (camps for children with medical diagnosis, support groups, grief programs etc.). Please use verification form included in ACLP Common Application.

100 hours of experience with well children. Please use verification form included in ACLP Common Application.

***All hours must be completed by time of application***

For additional information or questions regarding the application process please contact Natalie Chango, Child Life Internship Coordinator.

Application Checklist

  • ACLP Common Child Life Internship Application (PDF version)
  • Penn State Health Children's Hospital Supplemental Application (PDF)
  • ACLP Eligibility Assessment
  • Documentation of experience using Verification forms from ACLP Common Application
  • Transcripts (unofficial transcript is acceptable)
  • Resume and cover letter
  • A minimum of two professional recommendations:
    • One recommendation from a supervisor who has directly observed your work with children in a healthcare setting (preferably from a CCLS).
    • One recommendation from a supervisor who has directly observed your work with children in other professional settings.
    • Please use the Recommendation Form included in the ACLP Common Application.
    • A separate letter of recommendation is not required.
  • Final evaluations from practicum (if completed)

Mail all application materials in one envelope to:

Penn State Health Children's Hospital
Child Life Internship Program
500 University Drive, MC CH03
Hershey PA 17033

Interview Process

Due to COVID-19, all interviews are being done virtually.

Application Dates

Spring Internship

  • Anticipated Start Date – January
  • Application Due Date – September 5th

Fall Internship

  • Anticipated Start Date – August
  • Application Due Date – March 15th

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital follows the Association of Child Life Professions (ACLP) offer and acceptance dates. Please see ACLP website for current dates.

At this time, we're unable to support Recreation Therapy students for internships or practicum experiences.


The Child Life Program at Penn State Health Children's Hospital is pleased to offer a professional Child Life Practicum Program during the summer for students wishing to pursue a career in the Child Life profession. The Practicum Program is designed to provide an introduction to Child Life through observations and project completions.

The goal of our practicum program is to provide an opportunity for students to observe the role of a child life specialist. We aim to build the foundational skill and concepts necessary for success in their future child life education and career.

Child Life Practicum Objectives

  • Students spend time with the CCLS assigned to each unit and observe their daily routines Provide multiple educational sessions with correlated assignments and readings
  • Provide opportunities for students to observe hospital patients and their families through the child life lens
  • Observe, plan and engage students in therapeutic activities (both group and individual)
  • Understand and reflect on roles of various members of the multidisciplinary team and their interactions with Child Life
  • Set goals for the program and reflect on progress periodically and upon the conclusion of their practicum session

The practicum will be comprised of individually designed rotations in observation areas based upon coordinator assessment and best fit for each student. The expectation of student commitment to the practicum program will consist of two to three days a week, for up to ten weeks, or approximately 160 hours. Please be advised that Practicum hours cannot be used to satisfy the required internship hours to sit for the Child Life Certification. The deadline for applications is January 5. If you have any questions, please contact Practicum Coordinators at

In order to be considered for this practicum, you must:

  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA within major
  • Must be a standing junior or above at time of application, with completion of junior year by start of practicum semester
  • Must have completed a minimum of three courses in child development
  • Must have completed 50 hours of work with children (paid or volunteer)
  • Must have completed hours or be actively volunteering with children in a healthcare setting (volunteer, practicum, child life assistant) and/or other stressful situations (camps for children with medical diagnosis, support groups, grief programs etc.).

In order to satisfy any required academic credit, please also return with your application any pertinent requirements as determined by your course of study (i.e. course outlines, syllabus, etc.) with your application.

Deadlines are:

  • Practicum Session - 10 weeks, typically May - July
  • Application Deadline - January 5
  • Offer Deadline - February 12
  • Acceptance Deadline - February 13

Should dates fall on a weekend or holiday, deadlines will default to the following business day.


You may hand write (legibly) or type your application. Mail your complete application in one envelope. The complete application packet must be postmarked by January 5. Please include:

  • Completed Practicum Application (including essay) (PDF)
  • Practicum Questionnaire
  • Transcripts (student copy is acceptable)
  • Current Resume
  • Two reference letters in sealed envelopes (one from a person who has observed your work with children), included in signed and sealed envelope

Mail to:

Penn State Health Children's Hospital
Child Life Program - Practicum Program
Attn: Child Life Practicum Coordinator
500 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033

Upon review of your application, you will be notified by email of your selection status, which may include scheduling an interview. Interviews will be conducted virtually at the end of January.

If you are accepted as a practicum student and are affiliated with a college or university, please note that prior to the start of your practicum, an affiliation agreement must be entered into between Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and your school. If a contract is failed to be negotiated, the practicum placement becomes void.

This is an unpaid practicum. Please also be advised that required clearances, housing, and transportation are the responsibility of the student.


Thank you for your interest in the field of Child Life at Penn State Health Children's Hospital. At this time, we are unable to accept any new applications for shadow students. Please continue to check back for shadow student opportunities.

Thank you for your interest in the field of Child Life at Penn State Health Children's Hospital.

We are happy to provide shadowing opportunities to college students who are able to complete the necessary process. Due to the high demand and interest in the Child Life profession, we are not accepting high school students for this opportunity.

At this time, we offer a 4-hour morning shadowing experience. During this experience you will have the opportunity to observe Child Life services in a variety of clinical settings. We are unable to accommodate requests to fulfill specific course requirements. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility in scheduling your shadow opportunity with us.

To participate in a shadowing experience, please complete the following steps:

  1. Review the Academic Placements website for Shadowing Program guidelines. Be sure to read this website carefully.
  2. Complete the following forms:
    1. Observation/Career Shadowing Application (make sure all signatures have been acquired)
    2. Infectious Disease Summary (must be signed by Physician or School Nurse)
    3. Confidentiality Agreement
    4. Code of Conduct and Dress
    5. Student/Visitor Waiver Liability Form
  3. Scan all forms and e-mail or fax forms to:
    1. Lisa Clark, Pediatric Clerkship Coordinator, or fax to 717-531-0869.

You may follow-up with Lisa once your application and all forms have been completed and emailed.

Please follow these steps to the best of your ability. All steps must be completed prior to your shadowing experience. This process may take 4-8 weeks or longer. If approved, Lisa will contact you and the Child Life Shadow Student coordinator to schedule a time.

If selected to shadow:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Association of Child Life Professionals
  • Be prepared with questions
  • Arrive with a photo ID prior to scheduled start time to check-in with security and receive your visitor's badge
  • Come dressed in professional attire as well as comfortable, closed-toe shoes.
  • If for any reason you are unable to make your scheduled time, please contact us immediately.

If you have any questions related to this process please contact

Lindsey Reynolds, MS, CCLS
Child Life Program
Shadow Student Coordinator
Penn State Health Children’s Hospital