Child Life Specialist Internship

Child Life Specialist Internships at Mercyhealth Hospital–Rockton Avenue in Rockford are offered three times a year, beginning in January, May, and August/September. Internships are 16 weeks long, 39 ½ hours a week. One intern is selected for each session (three per year).

Interns work directly with our staff of four certified Child Life Specialists. One Child Life Specialist acts as the student’s primary supervisor during their internship. Students work primarily in the pediatric and pediatric intensive care units throughout their internship. There are no formal rotations to other units, although interns accompany the Child Life Specialist as they provide services throughout the hospital in areas such as the adult ICU, radiology, and outpatient departments.

Students who are interested in applying to the Child Life Internship Program must complete the following steps:

Education and skill requirements
To be considered for an internship, bachelor degree students must have senior status at the time of the internship. Graduate (master level) and independent internships (for students who have already completed their bachelor degree) are also offered. Independent and school affiliated internship candidates with majors in a child-related field such as child life, child development, early childhood education, family and human development, special education, etc. will be considered. While not required, students who have successfully completed a child life practicum will be considered before those with less experience.

Interns are expected to have and to further develop the following clinical skills:

  • Strong knowledge of child development and behavior (birth through age 18)
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written
  • Knowledge and understanding of group dynamics
  • Ability to organize, follow through, complete tasks and assignments, and work independently
  • Ability to provide developmentally appropriate and therapeutic play, education, and other child life interventions to children of every age

The Common Child Life Internship Application can be downloaded at Complete this application, print it, and mail it to us along with a copy of your resume, child life eligibility assessment (found on the child life website), hours verification form for any volunteer hours and/or child life practicum (obtain this from the facility where hours are completed), and all of your college/university transcript/s. Unofficial copies of your transcripts are acceptable to include with your initial application. Only students who are selected to interview for the internship position will be required to supply an official copy of their transcript/s at that time. Mail all of this information by the deadline established by the Child Life Council to:

Child Life, Pediatrics, B3
Mercyhealth Hospital–Rockton Avenue
2400 N. Rockton Ave.
Rockford, IL 61103

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

References and recommendation forms
Applicants are required to supply at least two recommendations/references (download reference form). Recommendations should come from individuals who have supervised and/or observed your work with children (paid, practicum, or volunteer). Academic references can be included as long as we have at least two other references describing your work with children. General reference letters can be included with the recommendation form if the person writing the recommendation would like to do so.

All references must be mailed DIRECTLY to the address above from the person writing the reference. Unsigned references will not be considered, and references that arrive in the application packet sent to us by the student will also be eliminated. The only exception to this will be reference letters that are written on business stationary and are sealed in a business envelope which bears the name of the business/institution of the person writing the reference, and has the signature of the person writing the reference across the seal. References are due on or before the application deadline.

All properly completed applications will be thoroughly reviewed, and some students will be selected to interview with our Child Life Specialists for the internship position. In-person interviews are preferred, although Skype/FaceTime interviews can sometimes be arranged for long-distance students. During the interview you will have a chance to tell us about your experiences with children and families and to share your interest and knowledge about the field of child life. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions, learn more about the specifics of the internship, tour the pediatric and pediatric intensive care departments, and meet child life staff members/interns. Students not selected to interview will receive email notification confirming this.

Selection of child life interns is made on the basis of demonstrated academic performance, academic area of study, application information (including essays/short answers), the type/length of experience working directly with children (paid, volunteer, practicum, etc.), quality of references, personal qualities, and the interview.

Students who are offered internships will receive a phone call on the official offer date/s established by the child life council. Please note that sometimes this process can take several days, as students have 24 hours to decide whether or not to accept an internship. Once the student verbally agrees to accept the internship they will also be notified in writing of their acceptance into the internship program.

Accepted students will be sent a detailed handbook which provides specific information about internship guidelines, requirements, assignments, and readings. Students who have been interviewed, but who are not offered an internship, will receive email notification confirming this.

Housing is available for a fee (currently $5/night) on a limited basis in a dormitory adjacent to the hospital. The hospital also occasionally has furnished apartments available to rent (currently $375-$575/month). Our Child Life Specialists can help you make arrangements if you require housing

Health and safety information and screening

Students who are selected to participate in the internship program are required to provide written copies of the following information before the start of their internship:

  • Proof of vaccinations: Two measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Tdap or Dtap (within last 10 years), flu shot (if in season), one-step TB test (within the last year), two varicella vaccines or a titer or physician documented case of chicken pox.
  • Background check

Stipend and fees
Child life interns do not pay a fee to the hospital, nor do they receive a stipend. Interns do receive the employee meal discount. Independent interns are required to carry a private liability insurance policy. Child life staff can help find this.

Interns will work a flexible schedule of 39.5 hours per week, including some evening shifts. Your weekly schedule will be completed by your internship supervisor.

For more information, please call the child life office at (815) 971-5309 or email Marcia Stalter at

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