Volunteers working in child care give a lot of their time and energy to
the children they help look after. However, many volunteers find that they
get back even more than they give.
Alex Gillis volunteered and now serves as a staff member at a day-care
center. He has found that the children he works with are very positive and
know how to have fun. Lucky for the volunteers -- they get to join in on the
"I see the strength, curiosity and beauty in each child," says Gillis.
Unfortunately, there are often not enough adults to go around. The child-to-adult
ratio in many day cares is small, meaning that the adults must spread themselves
thin. And that can make it difficult to meet all the needs of the individual
There is a great need for child-care volunteers, says Mary DeBlasio. She
is a director of volunteers at a child-care center.
As a volunteer in the child-care field, you may find yourself catering
to children's needs on many different levels. "[The volunteers] do anything
from tying a shoelace, assisting with homework to mentoring," explains Ed
Cook. He is the director of volunteers with a YMCA.
Maria Castro volunteers at a YMCA. She feels good working with children
and getting involved in her community. But what brings her the most fulfillment
is feeling liked and appreciated by the children.
"I really like it when the children come and give me a kiss and hug and
tell me they love me," she says. "It makes me enjoy the work."
When looking after children, there is no shortage of humor and entertainment.
Even the simplest activity, such as lunch time, can provide moments of insight
"A little girl was having her lunch of fried rice," says Gillis. "She ate
everything in her bowl but three little peas. When I asked why she hadn't
eaten them, she said, 'I don't do peas.'"
Statements like this have made Gillis realize how capable children are
of expressing themselves. These interactions have given him great respect
for children's intelligence. That's why he tells his volunteers to "treat
them as you would an adult."
How to Get Involved
To find a child-care volunteer position, check with your local school,
youth center or day-care center. Or, contact your local YMCA, and ask about
As a child-care volunteer, you should be a caring, patient person who enjoys
children. You may be required to interview for the position.
Finally, prepare for the unexpected, says Cook, and expect to receive a
lot of love back.
Learn about volunteering at the YMCA
Find a YMCA near you
Search for various volunteer opportunities in your area
Find various volunteer opportunities near you
National Association of Child Care Professionals
Back to Career Cluster
Learn about this organization for child-care professionals