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I am interested in exploring ways of supporting Early Years practitioners who do, or would like to, encourge volunteering, particularly in areas of multiple deprivation. Volunteers could be parents or carers, but would not have to be and the work could be directly with children, but would not have to be.

 

All ideas will be gratefully received and will be responded to. I am looking forward to hearing from you :D

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Hi,

not really sure how to respond here, as I'm not quite sure what you're after - experiences, methods..? When I was in a playgroup we relied on, so encouraged volunteers - now I'm in a DN, it's more difficult, although we do encourage involvement.

 

Get back to me if I've missed the point, or there's something specific in what I've said you'd like to follow up,

 

Sue :)

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we have tried everything to get parents into our setting, for help, experiences of culture etc. OR JUST TO PLAY... but its very hard, most parents think if they are paying to get their children into childcare why should they come in (not all i must add but the majority) :D

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Hi. We too, Hali have tried many things to get parent's involved in volunteering in the pre-school, but they just seem to not be interested! Luckily though we have a couple of older members of our team who have little or no childcare experience and who volunteer regularly to build on their basic skills. Sometimes they interact more with the children than the trained or qualified staff. One lady is planning on doing her level 2 when we return in september, having worked with us as a volunteer for just over a year.

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I worked in a playgroup which relied on parent helpers at one point but which had to employ an additional member of staff in the end because the parent help just wasnt there. We were committee run, and those members were made up from parents. It was these parents who could see how valuable their work was to the group, something they hadnt realised up until the point they joined. They did the admin side as far as rent, insurance and other non care/education side of things went. They also organised fundraising events although this was usually alongside staff rather than for them. If we couldnt get a volunteer helper for the sessions we used to issue a list a jobs that needed doing and invite them to put their name down for one or two (shopping, washing/repairing equipment), but over the years the jobs out numbered the helpers. I am going to a Volunteer day in a couple of weeks and if I get any tips that I havent tried over the years I'll get back to you. As Hali says, the main problem was with the parents thinking if they were paying for childcare they didnt see why they should be there too. We used to issue a newsletter which amongst other things asked for resources and some parents were able to help in that way. I useed the child record forms to help me pin point parents who might be able to help in some way, one of our dads was a postman, another workied in Sainsburys and one was a paramedic. It helped to know hobbies too. One did hand massage and another tarot reading, so these were used as a ploy to get people to listen to the AGM. A couple of parents/grandparents were uncomfortable working with the children so they stayed in the kitchen making snacks, drinks, washing up etc. It meant a member of staff didnt have to do it. We tried 'parents day' where the child had to bring a parent/grandparent. They had a go at making playdough, painting together, etc and it gave us the opportunity to show what went on in a session. I think there will always be those parents who see playgroup as a place to leave their child for a couple of hours but occassionally you find a diamond. When I started in playgroup 10 yrs ago the parents did a load of stuff but over the years we found more and more we were having to twist their arm. Not all of the change was due to lack of interest though, more parents have jobs now, children go to childminders who may have another child in their care aswell, or to grandparents who sometimes arent really up to having a 2-4 yr old in their care for 8 hours a day. I think the answer lies in information. When people knew what was involved in the running of the group they were more inclined to help, the current chair came on board when I issued a newsletter informing them the playgroup was in danger of closing due to lack of help, although when I gave a choice between them helping during a session or us raising fees to employ an additional member of staff they happily went with the fee rise. We were inundated with offers of help when the fire engine came and at the christmas party though. I will be watching this post with interest to see how others have achieved this. :D

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When a child starts with our pre-school the parents are requested to fill out a form indicating what they would be prepared to help with eg, washing clothes, photocopying, helping in sessions etc. SO we fill in a parent help rota with all those who said they would help in sessions.......this does not work, most of the parents dont come in!! This term we have tried a different tact, we have left the 'parent rota' blank and asked them to put their name down for a session. So far only two parents have signed up!!!!!

 

We were due to have a car boot sale last month......YES this had to be cancelled due to only 1 parent signing up. We have two other fund raising events comming up and apart from the committee, again no other parents have signed up to help. This means that the committee will have to do it with the help of staff!!

 

?????

 

Jenni x

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Guest MaryEMac

Just recently we had a problem when there was staff illness and we needed parents to help. I just sent out a letter asking if any of them would be interested in helping out to cover staff absences. Actually I had fifteen positive replies so I quickly followed that up with a 'Parent volunteer contract' which they all signed and returned. Needless to say we haven't needed their help since I did this!! Must make sure to catch the new parents in September.

Mary :o

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Hello Sue

 

Thank you for responding. I am seeking any ideas and thoughts around the topic of volunteers:

What are the benefits to settings and volunteers?

What roles can volunteers fill?

Has anyone developed training/qualifications for practitioners who recruit/train volunteers?

Has anyone prepared volunteers fr the Certificate in Community Volunteering?

New and interesting ideas re volunteering!

 

I work in a support role across the UK and am looking at working with settings who want to involve volunteers from their local community :)

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Thank you Rea

I have printed your detailed reply for future reference. It has helped me to get a picure of the sort of things that are going on. What are your views on making this sort of thing more formal and offering support to gain a qualification?

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Thank you for all your help everyone! As you can see, I am a new member still struggling with how the forum works. However, your ideas have been very helpful. I will be working on the topic of supporting volunteers over the next couple of months so any ideas will be gratefully received. :D:o

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Back in the late 80's and early 90's when my mum ran a playgroup, they had parents pay a 'registration' fee of about £10, which was refundable if they did completed 4 turns on the parent rota during the child's time at the group (equating to TWICE a year) This was successful as most parents were not working and the playgroup acted as a social rather than a teaching experience.

 

I'm not sure if that would work nowadays as I guess that most parents would be happy to pay the £10 and be done with it - or am I being unfair?

 

I know how hard it is to get volunteers, but I wonder if what is expected of parents is fully explained to them - are they anxious about doing something wrong or the children not liking them (clutching at straws here, but it's a thought?)

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I think there are to types of volunteers ( maybe more). One- the emergency cover and 2/ the longer term.

 

Parent support for staff shortages would come under number one and all committee run preschools are managed by "Volunteers" for the longer term, and would come under number two.

 

I suppose number three would be volunteers for long term in the setting. This is how I started in preschools, volunteering, then training, then salaried, now I own my own preschool business 20 yrs on.

 

Possible source of volunteers would be people who are unemployed, possibly looking for a career, but they have restrictions because they have to be "available for work", then you get into the realms of apprenticeships, return to work training programmes etc. I personally think that the unemployed should be able to volunteer without jeopardising their benefit.

( I may be wrong and this is available)

 

I do think that volunteers needs to be put on a more professional, formal contract ( in a sense). What is expected of them and what they expect from the setting they are volunteering for. In preschools we have issues such as CRB checks, confidentiality etc so a formal arrangement is very important. I don't think volunteers should just be used as "Cheap labour", for washing paint pots etc, there are many people with a wide variety of skills that could benefit the setting.

 

Also there are issues such as cost , Training costs - this is hard to justify if there isn't an employment position available in the future and then the volunteer moves on- in effect we would be training the workforce for no return ( although their attendence in the setting during training is valid, it is still very expensive for even in-service training, in terms of time. Out of pocket costs should also need to be considered / budgeted for.

 

What expectations would there be regarding attendence, consistency, confidentiality issues etc.?

 

In preschools we have issues such as CRB checks, confidentiality etc so a formal arrangement is very important. I would ask the question What motivates a person to volunteer? Would each persons motivation be different? Until I knew this, I wouldn't know how each individual volunteer would benefit the setting, and particularly the children and how we can be of benefit to them.

 

Sorry if my comments are all over the place, thinking on my feet. It has shown me that maybe training for employers would be useful, to help us to consider all the implications, the benefits and the best possible way to promote volunteering should we want to. Is this part of your remit too.....supporting the employers taking on volunteers.

 

Peggy

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Back in the late 80's and early 90's when my mum ran a playgroup, they had parents pay a 'registration' fee of about £10, which was refundable if they did completed 4 turns on the parent rota during the child's time at the group (equating to TWICE a year)  This was successful as most parents were not working and the playgroup acted as a social rather than a teaching experience.

 

I'm not sure if that would work nowadays as I guess that most parents would be happy to pay the £10 and be done with it - or am I being unfair?

 

I know how hard it is to get volunteers, but  I wonder if what is expected of parents is fully explained to them - are they anxious about doing something wrong or the children not liking them (clutching at straws here, but it's a thought?)

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I think that nowadays, with minimum wage etc, monetary compensation for "volunteering" attending rota, would be deemed as a payment/wage which should be declared as income. :o

 

Peggy

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was after some voluntary work in a school or playgroup last year when I did a Playworkers course and was hoping to become a Classroom Assistant but could not get anything, I phoned up a couple of places and they said they would get back to me but heard nothing. I decided to stop looking as it was very disheartning, but I am considering trying again for September time. :)

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Volunteers are usually welcome at most settings, but to be totally honest my old setting would have prefered parents of the children attending or a student on an accredited course. People these days need to be fully aware of WHY someone wants to be there, child protection is a huge issue for everyone and while that may sound 'over the top', it's a fact of life that there are strange people around and people are cautious. Why not write to a few settings, explain how you are interested in working with children and how volunteering can be a benefit to them as well as you. Tell tham which courses you are interested in and any background you have that you would like to extend upon. See what the replies are. Good luck :D:D

 

 

Peggy's post is, as usual, on the nail :D:D

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