Child Life in Action

at Edgewood College with Katie Glass, EdD, CCLS, Child Life Program Director

by Bea Wikander | July 16, 2019

Edgewood is the only academic institution in Wisconsin offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in child life and one of only two programs in the country pursuing both undergraduate and graduate endorsement through ACLP.  Richard H. Thompson, PhD, ACLP Board President from 1988 to 1990, developed the undergraduate child life program at Edgewood in the early 1970s along with Sister Nancy Rae Reisdorf. Since then, the undergraduate child life program has flourished, and a graduate degree was introduced in 2017. Recently, the college launched a combined five-year program. This program allows students to achieve both undergraduate and graduate degrees in child life within five years. This rigorous program includes multiple practicums in hospital and alternative settings and was created for undergraduate students who intend to obtain an advanced degree in child life. 

After taking an introductory course in child life, students are encouraged to pick one of three options: an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, or the combined undergraduate/graduate program. The differences in the programs include leadership, administration, and research-based education and experiences. All students benefit from one-on-one academic and internship advising, small class size, and Edgewood’s partnership with the child life program at American Family Children’s Hospital. Edgewood offers both online and in-person classes and support students in connecting with ACLP and local organizations.

Midwest Conference Edgewood Students and Alumni
Edgewood faculty, students, and alumni gathering at the 2017 Midwest Child Life Conference.

"Find an academic institution and program that is invested in the child life community and that can support you in your pursuits. It’s important to surround yourself with people who can build you up."

Katie Glass
Dr. Katie Glass, EdD, CCLS 

By limiting enrollment to no more than ten students annually for each degree program, faculty members are able to support students throughout the entire process of becoming certified—from academic study through the clinical internship and exam preparation. Courses are taught by ten instructors, including two full-time and two adjunct professors with the CCLS credential. Program faculty maintain strong relationships with local hospitals, partner with the on-campus library to provide child-life specific resources, and advise the student child life association, which coordinates a Child Life Week on campus during Child Life Month. Faculty are active ACLP members, and ACLP webinars are incorporated into the curriculum. Networking is encouraged and facilitated, and Dr. Katie Glass, EdD, CCLS, Child Life Program Director, accompanied thirty-three students to the Child Life Annual Conference in Chicago this year. All faculty remain connected and available to program alumni by offering peer-to-peer mentoring and yearly alumni events.

Securing an internship can be a challenging hurdle for those pursuing the CCLS credential. To make this process less daunting, Edgewood students are exposed to curriculum intended to prepare them for the application process as well as the clinical internship experience. Edgewood’s model of internship advising exemplifies the faculty’s commitment to developing and maintaining partnerships and supporting students in a comprehensive manner. The school offers a graduate-level course devoted to the internship process and sponsors focused internship application days in the on-campus writing center, where students receive assistance with their internship application essays. The student association also offers interview preparation and resume workshops. Upon securing an internship, students are enrolled in an online internship course to ensure they receive the necessary support and to encourage focus on reflective practice and self-care. Faculty facilitate the internship affiliation with hospitals and complete in-person site visits with students during their internships. These visits are part of Edgewood's commitment to partner with clinical child life programs.

Dr. Glass, second from the right, front row, celebrates with 2019 graduates and faculty. 

of Edgewood
are employed
6 months 
of graduation

Katie has been instrumental in developing Edgewood’s supportive and comprehensive child life program. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Edgewood College in 2005, Katie accepted a position at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. She returned to Edgewood College a few years, later after completing her Master's Degree in Education, to complete her doctorate at Edgewood College. Katie began working as an adjunct instructor in 2009, eventually becoming a full-time faculty member and director of the child life program. She has worked to build, develop, and expand Edgewood’s child life program ever since.

While Katie spends part of the week working in a clinical education role at American Family Children’s Hospital, her primary focus is academia. The decision to focus primarily on child life education and instruction was not easy, and Katie says, “…clinical work always has my heart.” Though difficult, Katie’s move to academia has been successful and rewarding. She credits Edgewood College leadership for the support she continues to receive in developing and expanding the child life program. With a 93% job placement for students in the first six months after graduation, it is clear that Katie’s commitment to offering exceptional child life instruction has yielded impressive results for Edgewood’s child life students. Her next goal is to create an online master’s degree program for those who are already certified.

Students at Child Life Week
Edgewood students celebrated Child Life Week in March, 2019.

Learn more about the child life programs at Edgewood College:

Child Life Profession