DCFS Seeks Volunteers to Help Kids, Families

Thursday, December 1, 2016

There are a variety of ways for people to "give back" during the holiday season, as it has become a time of year when many choose to share their good fortune. Monetary donations, toys and food baskets are all wonderful ways to give to those in need during the Christmas season--or anytime, but there is no substitute for the gift of time.

For those willing, and able, to share of themselves there is no greater reward than the time spent helping someone else. And, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services has the need--and it exists 12 months out of the year.

"We are in need of volunteers in Clay County to work with young people and adults through DCFS," county supervisor Tracy Holloway noted. "There are dozens of opportunities, from those with very little extra time to those with a lot of time on their hands."

Holloway noted the agency is always in need of volunteers, and has specific application requirements for those involved directly with children and clients. They also have a need for volunteers who will not have direct contact with the clients and children, although they are equally as important.

"We are always in need of those willing to transport children, but they must have a reliable vehicle and a cell phone," Holloway explained. "This usually includes local travel, but there may be some of long distances if the volunteer prefers. We also need people to transport adult clients to appointments, and return them to their homes afterward."

Those not interested in transportation may choose to help in the office.

"There are a lot of needs in the office, such as faxing paperwork and applications or filing and copying case file information," she added. "Others may help organize and maintain storage areas or visitation rooms or assist with short-term childcare for children whose parents are participating in staff work."

Holloway also indicated assistance, sometimes emergency care, is often needed when a child enters foster care.

The recruitment and retention of foster parents and volunteers is also a key part of the effort.

"We may ask a volunteer to make phone calls to businesses or organizations or they may be calling foster parents to inquire about their needs," she added. "They could also be asked to prepare meals for foster families, secure event space for recruitment and retention events or provide child care for foster parents during support meetings, trainings or date nights."

Those who are certified to give first aid/CPR training may also be asked to train foster and adoptive parent applicants.

In addition to the more mundane tasks, there are also fun ways to be of help.

"Volunteers can provide funds for birthday celebrations for children in foster care, or host fun events through the year for them," Holloway offered. "Funds are also needed for events like that, and we always need assistance with the annual Christmas effort."

Holloway noted there is no effort too small to make a difference.

"Perhaps you want to do something simple, you could volunteer to donate snacks to the DCFS office to be used to feed children who are waiting for foster care placement," she concluded. "It all makes a difference."

Those wanting additional information on the application process to become a DCFS volunteer may contact Holloway at the DHS office in Piggott at 870 598-2282.

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