Child Life Program

What is Child Life?

Certified Child Life Specialists provide evidence-based interventions to help children and families cope with illness and hospitalization. Based on child development, child life specialists help meet the social, emotional, and developmental needs of children in stressful situations to help them understand and handle their medical experiences.

Roswell Park now offers a Child Life Practicum Program.

Find out more now!

Why are Child Life Services Helpful?

Child Life Specialists are trained professionals who use play as a tool to help children cope with their diagnosis and treatment. Play is how children learn, develop, express themselves, and feel safe. When children are able to cope better, they can feel a sense of accomplishment, have an easier time handling treatment, and experience less distress before, during, and after medical experiences. 

Child Life Services

Diagnosis Education

  • Help the patient, sibling, or other young family members understand what is happening to their body at a level that they understand.
  • As a child grows older, help them understand the diagnosis and how it affects them in this stage of life.

Medical Play

  • Provides a sense of control and mastery over medical experiences by giving a level of comfort with medical tools.
  • Allows the child to express emotions and misconceptions through play.

Therapeutic Play

  • Help children cope by building a safe, fun environment that promotes their development.

Preparation & Support for Treatment

  • Help children understand what they will experience during medical procedures and treatments.
  • Create a plan with child and family that involves relaxation and distraction to ease pain and increase coping abilities during procedures.
  • Advocate for patient and family-centered care, comfort measures and non-pharmaceutical pain management.

Change and Loss

  • Help child and family members cope with loss through appropriate explanations, therapeutic activities, and resources.

When to Contact a Child Life Specialist?

  • After receiving a new diagnosis
  • Your child expresses fear or confusion
  • Difficulties with taking medication
  • Overall difficulty coping
  • Coping with end-of-life situations
  • Discussing diagnosis and treatment with child’s siblings
  • Your child has special needs
  • For preparation for a procedure or medical test
  • Anxiety expressed about medical procedures

Certified Child Life Specialist:

Jessica Wadium, CCLS
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
Katherine, Anne, & Donna Gioia Pediatric Center
716-845-1300 ext. 6282

If you are a child life student looking to volunteer, please reach out to the contact information above.

Child Life Practicum Overview:

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is offering a 150-hour child life practicum over 5 weeks from June to July during the summer of 2020. The practicum is an observational training program which introduces individuals to the field of child life. During the practicum, the student will observe Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) provide interventions to infants, children and adolescents in a health care setting. The student will rotate with a CCLS in pediatrics and a CCLS working with children of adult patients. 

Practicum Objectives:

  • Increase knowledge of the Child Life profession
  • Enhance knowledge of the psychosocial effects of hospitalization and illness. 
  • Meet the recommendations of child life practicum programs as set by the ACLP.
  • Prepare student for child life internship.
  • Evaluate one’s self and professional aspirations.

Requirements for Application:

  • Experience volunteering with children in a hospital setting
  • A minimum of 50 hours working or volunteering with well children or children in stressful situations
  • A 3.0 or higher GPA
  • Minimum of sophomore year completed in bachelor’s degree program in child life or related field.
  • Completed a minimum of one related course such as child life, child development, psychology, family studies, recreational therapy, or education.  
  • Students must be unaffiliated or affiliated but not getting school credit for the child life practicum. Students can be in or have completed undergraduate school or graduate school. Please call the Child Life Office at 716-845-1300 ext. 6282 with questions.


  • Attached Application with completed essay questions
  • Resume
  • Unofficial Transcripts
  • One Letter of Recommendation signed and sealed from a supervisor of your work with children

Download Application

The application must be postmarked by February 17th, 2020

Send application without any staples or paperclips to:
Attn: Jessica Wadium
Pediatric Clinic
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
666 Elm Street
Buffalo, NY 14263