Child Life Program

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We Make Healthcare Less Scary

Whether your child is visiting the hospital for tests, a procedure, an emergency, or surgery, it can be a scary or stressful time. Our certified child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome some of life’s most challenging events. We explain the care process and what to expect in terms your child and family can all understand.

Our child life specialists have backgrounds in child development and family systems. They promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They have experience supporting children’s and teens’ concerns and reactions to many different health challenges and illnesses. Our goal is to make sure everyone in your family can cope with your child’s time in the hospital and that the experience is as positive as possible.

Child Life Specialists Use Unique Coping Methods

The type of support our child life specialists provide is as unique as the children, teens, and families who need it.

Our child life specialists can help you and your child cope with illness, surgery, or other health challenges by providing:

  • Emotional support for families, including sibling help and education.
  • Age appropriate play to promote continued growth and development, in play spaces or at the child’s bedside.
  • Medical play opportunities to give children a chance to talk about their fears or misunderstandings and to gain a sense of control.
  • Special events and celebrations, like birthday parties and holiday events.
  • Support for children having surgery, procedures, or treatments – using relaxation, distraction, and diversion to reduce fears and anxiety. Includes preparation for the experience, development of coping plans, and opportunities for expression and processing after the experience.
  • Bereavement support for siblings and families in the event of a child’s death.
facility dog Isa and her handler greeting kids

Facility Dog Supports Patient Care

Isabela, Baystate Children’s Hospital’s first-ever facility dog, goes to work every day to provide special animal-assisted therapy to pediatric patients, their families, and staff members.

Practicum and Internship Programs

Child Life & Healing Arts Practicum Program

Baystate Children’s Hospital’s Child Life & Healing Arts Practicum Program is intended to provide an introduction to the child life profession for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career as a child life specialist.

Practicum students have an opportunity to observe a Child Life Specialist in two clinical settings as well as assist with the implementation of therapeutic and developmentally appropriate activities. In addition, practicum students will complete relevant readings and assignments.

Placements are determined by the department's availability and staffing.

All students are required to be fully vaccinated for both flu and Covid-19.

A practicum experience will be at least 10-12 hours per week for 12 weeks. Applicants commit to two shifts per week. Scheduling days and times are based on departmental needs and supervisor availability.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall applications – May 20
  • Spring applications – October 28
  • Summer applications – February 24

Fill out an Application

Applications can be submitted at

Child Life Internship Program

Baystate Children’s Hospital Child Life Internship Program is intended to provide individuals with hands-on clinical and professional experiences needed to enter the field of child life. Under the supervision of a CCLS, an intern will complete a full-time experience with rotations in a variety of settings. Rotations are determined by departmental availability and staffing.

Internship opportunities are on average 40 hours per week for a minimum of 16 weeks. Applicants commit to shifts that match those of various supervising CCLS’s. For example, if in an Emergency Department rotation, it may be (3) 12-hour shifts per week, however, an inpatient rotation may be Monday thru Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm.

We will use the ACLP’s recommended internship schedule of application and offer dates. We ask that applications be received by the deadline unless other arrangements have been made with us.


Applicants are strongly encouraged to email or call the Child Life & Healing Arts Internship Coordinator, Rachel Alley, before submitting an application.

Rachel Alley, BS, CCLS III, CEIM
Baystate Children’s Hospital
Pediatrics Daly 4
759 Chestnut St
Springfield, MA 01199

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