Running our weekly programs at our five sites simply wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous commitments of our Playtime Project volunteers, who interact firsthand with the incredible youth we are fortunate to serve. Volunteering with Playtime Project is a perfect opportunity for those looking for a way to make a meaningful and sustained difference in their community and in the life of a child.
Because of the need for consistency and relationship building in the lives of children in transition, volunteers are expected to make a two-hour weekly commitment for at least six months. Volunteers should come with experience working with children and an interest in learning about the special population we serve in order to support healthy child development. We look for individuals who will take initiative in planning and leading arts and crafts projects, ball games, reading, games, and imaginary play activities for children of various ages. Volunteers should also be comfortable setting appropriate boundaries to maintain order, safety, structure and respect for Playtime rules.
For the safety of our children, a background check and two and a half hour training session is required prior to beginning to volunteer. We also require that volunteers attend the Stewards of Children training at Safe Shores to further inform their interactions with children and to keep children safe. Also, check out our volunteer site locations.
Our volunteer trainings take place on a monthly basis at our office in Columbia Heights, NW (1525 Newton Street, NW). View our calendar to see upcoming training dates.
Click on the icons below to fill out the volunteer application. Please note that for weekend and daytime volunteer opportunities, you should apply to volunteer on the playground at DC General Shelter. Volunteers in the playroom should come with evening availability (6:30-8:30 pm on at least one day of the week, Mondays through Thursdays).
FAQS FOR PLAYTIME VOLUNTEERS
How old do I need to be to become a Playtime Volunteer?
Traditionally, only those over the age of 18 are eligible to volunteer with Playtime Project. However, we sometimes can make exceptions for mature 16- and 17-year-old individuals who have experience serving children and can make a long-term commitment (at least 6 months). With few exceptions, a parent or guardian is required to be present at the site when you volunteer to ensure your safety and that of the youth we serve.
If you are under 18 years old and interested in volunteering, please fill out the volunteer application. We will review your application and follow up with you to obtain a description of your child-care background to be considered with references and parental permission.
What should I bring to my Volunteer Training Session?
Please bring a photo ID and a snack if you will be hungry. If you have a copy of a national background check that’s been conducted within a year or proof of such background check on appropriate letterhead, we may be able to waive the background check requirement. In this case, you should bring a copy to the training. If you do not have proof of a background check, we are happy to conduct one for you. The fee associated with background checks is $30 and we ask volunteers to make a donation in that amount to help us keep programmatic costs low. If you are experiencing financial hardship, please discuss with our staff and we can waive the background check fee.
Can I bring my own children with me when I volunteer at Playtime?
Because we have limited space in our playrooms and try to maintain a 3:1 kid-to-volunteer ratio, we can’t allow parent volunteers to bring their own little ones along. Our kids require your full attention! However, we do host two family-friendly fundraiser events each year so keep an eye on our calendar and visit our get involved page often to see the latest ways to get your family involved.
Donation drives are another terrific way to get your children involved in our work. Check out our list of goods we need and encourage your children to plan their own donation drive! Also, teach your children about family homelessness with our Homelessness Fact Sheet for Children.
Are there opportunities to volunteer on the weekends or as a one-time or occasional volunteer?
Increasingly, we have volunteer opportunities for those individuals and groups who wish to give back but can’t make a long-term, weekly commitment. If you can offer something well above and beyond what our general Playtime volunteers can offer such as monthly in-site yoga, dance lessons or music therapy, we would love to discuss further. Special visitors in the past have included puppeteers, firefighters, dental professionals, step dance instructors and an astronaut! To learn about current volunteer opportunities, please share your interest and availability with us here.
Otherwise, please consider helping Playtime Project and the families we serve by committing 6 months or more as a volunteer, hosting a drive or fundraiser, donating goods, or contributing monetarily to HCPP.
Ready to get started? Read the frequently asked questions about becoming a volunteer below and fill out our volunteer application
Fact – The National Center on Family Homelessness
Many homeless individuals have experienced childhood abuse and neglect, as well as the stresses associated with poverty and the loss of their home, safety, and sense of security. Traumatic stresses are cumulative and increase the risk of developing health, behavioral, and social problems as adults. These experiences affect how children think, feel and behave, and can have long-term effects on their ability to form sustaining, supportive adult relationships.