Working with Teen Volunteers in your Agency


Agency Information

â??Young people need to know about your agencyâ??s mission and program.

Use this as an opportunity to educate youth and their families about
your organization and its issues.

- Give them written information to read later on that they can give to their

- Introduce them to key people in the organization, especially those with
whom they will be interacting.

- Provide a tour of your facility.


Do not assume that students understand appropriate conduct and etiquette in your agency.

Be sure to address the following items with your youth volunteers: (you may even want to print a short informational brochure)

- How do you, other adults in the agency, and the people that you serve like
to be addressed? (Mr., Mrs., Mrs., first names, etc.)

- Appropriate behavior

- Punctuality

- Relations with staff

- What if you are sick?

- In case of emergency

-Organizational Rules regarding:

Confidentiality (what is it and why is it important?)
Appropriate language
Time constraints

*Be sure to explain the reasons and the importance of these rules for students.

- The importance of follow-through and maintaining the agreed commitment.

- If you expect a signed commitment (contract) explain the need at this time

Information on Individuals Being Served

Service learning can bridge gaps between different generation, different ethnic groups, different income levels, and other areas of diversity in our community.

Stereotypes and gaps can widen if young people do not know what to expect or how to interact.

Take time to talk to the students about the clients that you serve.
You will create a better understanding of the needs and opportunities that exist in our community.

Problem Solving

Take time to help students with problem solving.

- Can you discuss some problems that might arise before they occur?

- What problems will students encounter when they are serving?

- Will people be uncomfortable receiving their help?

- Will they encounter opposition?

- Will tasks not go as planned?

- Will the weather interfere?

- Will they run out of supplies?

â?? Using case studies from your agencyâ??s experience, can be a good concrete way for the young people to practice problem solving.

Safety and Supervision

Just like the school, a volunteer agency needs to provide:

â?? A safe physical environment
â?? Adequate supervision
â?? Safe adult supervisors.

Consider the following questions:

- How will you assess the need for volunteers and develop volunteer job
descriptions that are appropriate for adolescent volunteers?

- How will you recruit, screen, select and train young volunteers?

- What kind of screening is appropriate for young volunteers?

- What kind of training is required for the positions in which young
volunteers will be placed?

- Who will be responsible for supervising these young volunteers?

- Does your insurance policy cover volunteer service by children and teens?

- What kind of parental permission is necessary for children and adolescents
who volunteer?

â?? Even when you work with a group of students, matching for a specific task is needed.

Young people should be assigned to parts of the project that best fit their interest, skills, readiness and needs.

â?? Even if community service is mandatory, your agency is not required to involve all young people in service.

Your primary responsibility is to provide quality service to your clients.

If a young person, or even a whole group does not meet specific needs of your organization, you are free to, and should, redirect their energies.

An effective safety management strategy is always composed of the following steps:

1)identify the risks
2)assess the risks
3)decide how to control the risks
4)implement a strategy to avoid, reduce or deal with the risks
5)Review and revise this policy periodically and as needed.

When identifying potential risks, take into account:

â?? Age of the young people participating
â?? Are there any legal duties imposed on your organization to care for these
young people?
â?? Review your premises, location, adult staff and the activity in
which students will participate.
â?? Make yourself aware of the potential hazards that student participation
may pose.

4 Tools to Help You Control Risks:

1)Avoidance â?? Choose not to offer a service opportunity that presents too great
a risk.
2)Modification â?? Adjust your policies, plans and procedures to reduce the
chance that harm may occur.
3)Transfer â?? Shift at least the financial aspect of the risk through
contractual agreements and insurance.
4)Retention â?? Accept the risk and prepare for the consequences.

Some service opportunities may be appropriate if they are modified to meet the needs and capabilities of young volunteers.

â?? Children may need to have tasks broken down into their individual
components, or into shorter time spans.

â?? Children should not be expected to work for periods longer than 60-90
minutes, and should complete their assignments during the daytime.
Adolescents may be able to handle longer periods and later hours of service.

When writing job descriptions:

â?? Use language that young volunteers will understand.
â?? State exactly what tasks the volunteer will be performing.
â?? Who will supervise these volunteers?
â?? Are there any tasks, locations or activities that a young volunteer will
not be allowed to participate in?

Agency Contact with School and Parents

Be sure to maintain contact with the Volunteer Center, school and parents.

â?? Parents can provide you with helpful information about their youngsterâ??s
abilities, limitations, physical and emotional development.

â?? Parents who are made aware of their childrenâ??s activities, and who are
asked to contribute, tend to feel better about the organization at which
their child volunteers.

â?? If the student is involved in an activity that has a potential risk,
inform parents and request their permission for their child to
participate in this activity. Make sure that forms/permission slips sent
to parents are clear and precise.

Kids and Teens

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