Social Services: Children & Youth
Family Care Volunteer
When children are brought to Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center to receive a forensic interview, Family Care volunteers (FCs) welcome these child clients and their non-offending family members to our center. FCs appropriately interact with families to provide comfort and support while maintaining client confidentiality. FCs provide supervision for clients of Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center in a fun, child friendly setting.
The primary goal of the FC is to help make our child clients feel welcome and comfortable while visiting our agency.
FC Volunteer Shift Procedure
Disclaimer: Shifts are designated in 2 hour intervals.
When you arrive for your shift,
please sign in and contact the Family Services Coordinator. You will then make sure
the playrooms and waiting rooms are ready for clients. FCs may not make
non-agency related phone calls while clients are present.
When clients arrive at Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center, the FC will welcome them and show them the waiting area, provide them with snacks, and notify the interviewer that the family has arrived. You must make sure our child clients are never left unattended. For example, when CPS and law enforcement speak with parents/guardians in private, it will be your responsibility to supervise the child client(s). During the interview, when the child client is with Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center staff, you may let the parent(s)/guardian(s) know that you are available at the FC desk, should they have a question or need assistance. Once the child returns to the lobby following the interview, you will continue with supervision until the client(s) leaves the facility. Please make sure that the client receives a stuffed animal before he or she leaves the agency. Once the client has left, please make sure the play area/ lobby are straightened and ready for the next client.
FC Volunteer Best Practices
· The parent/guardian or child may have many questions. Be sure to direct their questions to either the Family Advocate or Forensic Interviewer. Please remember that this in an ongoing criminal investigation.
· Your attire should be comfortable, however child-friendly. Jeans are allowed; however, they must not be ripped. Flip-flops and t-shirts are prohibited, as well.
· Encourage the child to go into the play area and explain that this is an area for kids to play or just relax - it may help to have the caregiver give the child permission to play there.
· Join the child in the play area and follow their lead regarding play activity.
· Approach all children and families with respect.
· Do not promise the child any candy or toys (stuffed animals, etc.) before the interview.
· It is best to keep your interaction with the clients on a non-verbal level as much as possible. It is important to remember that children are here as part of an investigation and speaking with a child about why he or she is at Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center or otherwise engaging in a conversation with the client about his or her abuse, could hinder the investigation. You do not want to become part of the investigation or be called to testify in court. Your role as a Family Care Volunteer is to provide supervision for our child clients while they are waiting for their interview and after they have completed the interview.
· Remember to smile and acknowledge the family and other agency members. We want our clients and agency partners to have a positive experience at Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center.
· If a client’s behavior becomes inappropriate or violent, notify the parents/guardians immediately and have them address the problem with the child. If they refuse or are unable to control the child, then notify either the Forensic Services Coordinator or Forensic Interviewer. NEVER raise your voice, yell or scold a child. Always ask for help if you are in an uncomfortable situation.
· If the child attempts to talk to you about why he or she is at Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center, tell him or her to wait until they talk to the Forensic Interviewer. If the child discloses to you any information about the case or abuse, notify the Forensic Interviewer or Forensic Services Coordinator as soon as possible, but without leaving the child unattended.
· Clients and their families may only enter the facility through the front entrance. If the parent(s)/guardian(s) wish to walk outside (i.e. to make a phone call or smoke a cigarette), please escort them through the main entrance. Never open, or allow clients to open, the exterior doors in the waiting rooms.
What NOT to Do
· Don’t make promises - sometimes we are tempted to make unrealistic promises when we see a child in crisis but promises we can’t keep may further damage the child’s ability to trust.
· Don’t ask what happened or talk about any allegations of abuse.
· Don’t approach children abruptly or attempt to hug or touch them - it is okay to hug if they initiate it but be mindful of the fact that the child may have recently been hurt by touch.
· Don’t force a child to separate from their parent if they are not ready - it may take several attempts before the child is engaged in the playroom.
· Don’t try to influence the child’s play - children, especially abused children, come in many different developmental stages, and should not be made to do “something their age” etc., especially at this time.
· DO NOT take the child to the bathroom. If the child needs to use the bathroom, notify the parents/guardians and have them take the child to the bathroom. DO NOT change diapers - that is the responsibility of the parents/guardians.
In the event of an emergency, such as someone who appears threatening or a suspected perpetrator is attempting to come in the agency, notify staff immediately. If staff is not available, contact 911 immediately.