Volunteer Policies and Guidelines
The following requirements need to be completed by each Brighter Beginnings
volunteer BEFORE in-home visits:
• Signed application
• Criminal record background screening
• Two-part training:
– Orientation to Brighter Beginnings and volunteer role
– Mandated Reporter & Infant CPR/First Aid Course
• Signed Volunteer Role and Confidentiality Statement
• Copy of current driver’s license and automobile insurance provided
• Treat your parents’/recipients’ lives as private and worthy of respect in that privacy.
• Do not talk about your family matches with neighbors, family or friends.
You can discuss your volunteer, work, but avoid betraying confidences or gossip about an individual’s problems or private life.
• Discuss any issues or concerns with Brighter Beginnings staff or at the volunteer meeting.
These simple but important measures should be taken each time a home visit is made/planned:
• Wash your hands when you arrive and before you leave, before and after diapering and after coughing/sneezing.
• Call ahead if you have a cold, sore throat, etc to make sure it is okay to visit.
• Call to reschedule if you have a contagious infection, vomited, fever, etc. within 24 hours prior to scheduled visit
Volunteers will go to homes in pairs
Never place involvement at a higher priority than your own safety and well-being:
• Domestic violence
• Drug use or alcohol use
• Involvement in criminal behavior
• If appropriate, state that you are uncomfortable with what is going on, that you need to leave and hope that you can talk again later. Appropriate actions after leaving the home would be to call the police and/or Brighter Beginnings staff, depending on the situation.
• All volunteers will complete mandated reporter training (online).
• Do not loan money or otherwise get in the habit of personally supplementing family income. Brighter Beginnings may be able to offer direct assistance funds for families in need. The volunteer or family can inquire about funds by contacting a Brighter Beginnings staff.
• If there is an immediate situation for which you need to provide financial assistance (groceries, prescription, etc), make sure the family is aware that you expect to be paid back and/or you will be contacting Bright Beginnings staff for possible reimbursement funds. This allows for you to be responsive to the family’s needs without undermining the relationship.
• Get to know the family before you consider blending your personal life and family with theirs
• Take care of yourself first and relax with volunteer/recipient boundaries gradually, if you choose to do so at all.
• Selectively offer your personal contact to families. Otherwise, ask them to convey messages to Brighter Beginnings if it is not appropriate for them to have your personal contact.
• Check with parents about diapering preferences if you are left alone with the child.
• Support and comfort to families is part of your volunteer role however refrain from kissing babies and children
• Due to increase awareness of sensitivities, refrain from using perfumes and strong scented hair products when you will be holding a young baby
• Brief “respite care” is appropriate and highly valued by the parents we serve. It should not become the sole focus of your visit. Avoid providing regular childcare.
• If you are caring for children while parents are out of the home, the parents must complete and post the emergency contact form provided by Brighter Beginnings.
• If you are uncomfortable providing such service, please let the recipient know upfront and/or share that on your application form and the coordinator will relay that to the family.
Roles, Responsibilities and Goals
• To provide warm and consistent support and emotional back-up to a parent by visiting on a regular basis and by being an active listener
• To promote a parent’s self-esteem by recognizing his/her strengths and reinforcing them
• To focus on the primary caregiver (mother, father, grandparent) not the child
• To help create a feeling of trust and confidence by being a reliable, dependable special friend
• To act as a role model for appropriate parenting and basic life skills, such as keeping appointments, handling and expressing feelings, and exploring options for problem solving
• To accept the parent’s individuality by not giving advice, criticizing, or imposing one’s own values
• To respect the confidentiality of all information the parent shares, making provision for reporting suspected neglect or abuse to Brighter Beginning staff or appropriate professionals
• To be available as a support to the parent during a crisis
• To make a commitment to visit the family for an agreed upon time frame (typically 8-10 weekly visits over a 2.5 month period)
• To support parent’s wishes to engage in new experiences which will not only be enjoyable but also result in feelings of success and achievement
• To enhance parental capacity by building a relationship with parents
• To maintain all documentation required by the program
The Closure Process
• The closure of service is a great opportunity to give the family recognition of growth! Do we see measurable increases in baby care skills, confidence and energy?
• Is Mom/Dad beginning to be more involved in ‘the outside world’ (reconnecting with friends, activities and community events)?
Be honest about your feelings and acknowledge that the closure is difficult for you as well. Possible ways to make the closure process less abrupt:
• Gradually reduce your visits from once a week to every two weeks
• Use “natural closure times” (holidays, returning to school, vacations, etc.) if it is close to the twelve visits.
• Make the last visit special in some way (go on a special outing or allow the parents a “date night”
• Consider saying, “I would love to hear from you. Let me know how you are doing.” This can convey a message of caring beyond the volunteer “job description”.
• Send a card for holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.
• When ending with a family with whom you have spent a great deal of time with the older sibling(s), you will need to have closure with the children also. Perhaps plan a special outing or activity or leave a token of your time together.
• Complete and return the Volunteer Log and Outcomes Checklists toBrighter Beginnings staff.
• If it is a desire of yours to continue the connection be sure everyone understands that Brighter Beginnings is over – in many cases there will be another client/mom waiting for a volunteer so don’t overextend yourself to one family. Additionally, other clients may wonder why someone “was getting services for a year or more and she was told it was for 6 months!”