Child Life Program at UC San Diego Health

Hospitals can be a confusing and frightening environment for a child. Children and their families who undergo hospitalization can experience fear and stress as a result of medical procedures and separation from home and family members.

It is the goal of the Child Life Program to minimize anxieties by providing evidence-based interventions and support services for burn-injured children that are psychologically and developmentally appropriate. 

Child Life Services For Patients

The certified child life specialists at UC San Diego Health are trained practitioners with a background in counseling, child development and psychology. We specialize in the unique social, developmental and emotional needs of children with burn injuries and their families.

Our services include:

  • Explaining procedures in language that children understand
  • Introducing healthy coping strategies and techniques
  • Providing distraction for children during medical procedures
  • Encouraging play and developmentally supportive activities
  • Providing an outlet for children to express their feelings
  • Helping children enhance their coping skills through activities
  • Providing grief support

We take a family-centered approach to care, working closely with doctors and nurses to ensure that the social and emotional needs of patients, siblings, families, and children of seriously ill and injured patients are being met.

School Re-Entry Program

In addition to providing support while in the hospital, we also assist children with the transition from the hospital setting back to the classroom. To help ease the move, our team will make a presentation to your child's classmates and teachers to educate them about your child's medical condition and help them understand burns and burn prevention. This allows the school community to gain an understanding for your child's situation so they can help make the return to class as comfortable as possible. You and/or your child can decide whether or not you would like to attend. 

Prior to your child's return, we will contact the school to make sure all of the proper accommodations are in place, and make recommendations if needed.

Child Life Community Services

Outreach Programs

We offer fire, burn and injury prevention education programs for children in:

  • Preschools
  • Elementary schools
  • High schools
  • Camps
  • After-school programs
  • Homeschool programs

Presentations are can be customized to meet the unique developmental needs of the audience.

Contact our child life team by calling (619) 471-9458, or email to schedule a prevention education day for your program.

Information For Student Applicants

Training Programs

UC San Diego Health's Child Life Program provides educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in the field of child life. The program follows all of the recommended application deadlines set by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Below is information on our Child Life Internship and Child Life Practicum.
Applications for both programs can be mailed to:

Katie Hamelin, MA, BSW, CCLS
Child Life Program Manager
200 West Arbor Drive
5th Floor Burn Unit
San Diego, California, 92013

Child Life Internship

Common Child Life Internship Application
The internship application and all supporting documents must be submitted by mail. Tips and instructions on completing the Common Child Life Internship Application

Our child life internship program is a 600-hour clinical internship under the direct supervision of a certified child life specialist. Intern experiences include time in the burn unit, trauma unit, burn outpatient clinics, and palliative care services.

We only accept graduate level internship candidates from affiliated universities.

Internship opportunities are available to affiliated students in the spring and fall, we do not offer summer internships. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Application requirements for the UC San Diego Health Child Life Internship

Child Life Practicum

The Child Life Practicum gives students the chance to experience the child life profession and gain insight into the unique, individual needs of children who are hospitalized and their families.

The practicum spans 150 hours and 10 weeks, and is open to students studying child life at either the graduate or undergraduate level. Practicum students are accepted in the winter, summer and fall.

Application requirements for the UC San Diego Health Child Life Practicum
Application For Child Life Practicum

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