Holiday Hours

With the exception of Inova hospitals, Inova Emergency Care and Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care, all Inova outpatient offices will be closed for the Memorial Day holiday – Monday, May 27.

(Last updated January 2024)

Thank you for your interest in the Child Life Internship Program at Inova Children's Hospital. Our 600-hour internship program is accredited by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). The program runs for 15 weeks during the Summer session and 16 weeks during the Fall session. During this time, interns gain extensive clinical experience in the field of child life. Under the supervision of a team of Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS), interns learn about conducting psychosocial assessments, implementing patient- and family-centered care, medical and healthcare play, therapeutic play, psychological preparation, support and coping techniques and more.

Please review the ACLP’s website at for further information regarding coursework, certification eligibility and internship qualifications.

Eligibility Criteria and Deadlines

The internship is open to applicants who:

  • Are seeking CCLS certification with the intent to pursue a career in the field of child life
  • Have experience with well infants, children, youth and/or families
  • Have experience with infants, children, youth and/or families in stressful situations, healthcare settings and/or programs designed for children with special needs
  • Have completed a 100 hour child life practicum OR 100 hours in a child life assistant role under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist
  • Have completed the academic coursework* portion of the ACLP eligibility assessment or are actively enrolled in an ACLP-endorsed academic program 
    *In-progress courses will be accepted if successfully completed prior to the start of the internship. The applicant’s transcript MUST show proof of enrollment in the required course(s).

Application Process

  • Complete the ACLP's Common Internship Readiness Application (available on the ACLP website). The application must include transcripts for ALL institutions, including any transfer credits.
  • Email the downloaded application to during the application acceptance timeframe. Please see the table below for specific dates. The email subject line should state the applicant’s name, the internship session (fall, summer), and the year.

Questions about the internship should be directed to Emily Freeborn at or Stephanie Harris at

Upon review of submitted materials, applicants will be notified of the status of their application. Submission of an application does not guarantee the candidate will receive an interview or an internship placement.

Accredited by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP).

Have Questions?

Questions about the internship should be directed to Emily Freeborn at or Stephanie Harris at

2024 Internship SessionApplication Acceptance TimeframeSecond Round InterviewInitial Offer DatesAcceptance DatesInternship Start DateInternship End Date
Summer11/24/2023 - 1/5/2024Thursday, 2/8/2024Tuesday, 2/13/2024Wednesday, 2/14/2024Monday, 5/13/2024Tuesday, 8/27/2024
Fall2/2/2024 - 3/15/2024Thursday, 4/25/2024Tuesday, 5/7/2024Wednesday, 5/8/2024Tuesday, 9/3/2024Thursday, 12/19/2024

 * We DO NOT offer a Winter/Spring internship session. *

Internship Offers

The Child Life Internship Program at Inova Children’s Hospital follows the deadline, offer and acceptance dates set by the ACLP. Upon acceptance of the internship, candidates will be required to submit to a background check, pre-placement health screening, and drug screening. The pre-placement screening and drug screening must be completed at an Inova facility at least two weeks prior to the start of the internship. Interns will also be required to submit proof of liability insurance, which may be purchased independently or provided through the student’s college/university. In addition, Inova Health System’s vaccination policy requires that all Inova staff, employees, contracted clinical personnel, volunteers, students, vendors and medical staff receive an annual flu vaccination.

Students should be aware that Inova Children’s Hospital does not sign affiliation agreements. Once a candidate accepts the internship, he or she will be provided with an “Unpaid Internship Offer Letter” from Inova’s Human Resource Department. Students who are planning to complete the internship for school credit should speak with their advisors about whether that document will satisfy their school’s requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

We do not require you to be enrolled in a degree program. However, independent students must obtain professional liability insurance. If selected for the internship program, the Child Life Department can provide you with the name of a company that may provide this type of insurance.

Strong internship candidates will demonstrate excellent written and oral communication skills, a strong academic background with knowledge about the psychosocial needs of children and families in healthcare settings, and will have a variety of experiences working with children both in and out of the hospital setting.

Yes, the internship is an unpaid position. The cost of parking and educational materials is covered by the Child Life Department. In addition, the Child Life Department will provide you with an Inova jacket or vest. You are responsible for your personal housing, transportation, and living expenses. Once you are accepted into the program, the Child Life Department may provide a list of potential housing options in the area.

We review each complete application and will notify all candidates of their application status. Submission of an application does not guarantee the candidate will receive an interview or an internship placement. First-round interviews are typically conducted via recorded video. Second round interviews are conducted in a multiple mini interview (MMI) format over Microsoft Teams. 

The internship is a 15-16 week, 600-hour internship that is divided into two rotations, with an initial orientation week. Rotation options vary by session, and may include the Pediatric Medical/Surgical Unit, the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology & Ortho/Trauma Unit, the Pediatric Specialty Care Unit, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Services, Adult Services (children of adult patients), the Pediatric Imaging Department, the Pediatric Surgery Center, the Pediatric Emergency Department, Radiation Oncology, and the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic. The last week of each rotation is designated as an “independent week.” During this time, the interns are given the opportunity serve as the primary child life specialist on their units while receiving feedback from their rotation supervisors.

Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week, following the same schedule as their rotation supervisors, in order to acquire the most realistic and consistent working experience. Many rotations follow a Monday through Friday schedule with daytime hours, but some rotations include evening and weekend hours.

We typically offer two or three interns acceptance into the program each term, depending on the pool of applicants, the availability of supervisors, and the needs of the department.