Our Families Have Their Say

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Blog, Featured Stories |

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by Jamila Larson, Executive Director

“He is learning excellent social skills.” … “My child is more outgoing and talkative.” … “She is getting better with interacting with kids.”

Each year, we survey parents whose children participate in our programs. It’s important to check in and make sure we’re meeting the needs of our families at each site we serve, and hearing their voices.

Playtime August 2016-63

Photo by Rebecca Staple

More than 95% of the parents who responded to the survey – and we had about 117 parents respond – noted that Playtime:

  • makes their child feel happy,
  • helps them relax or de-stress by giving them a break,
  • provides a safe, secure, and clean environment for children, and
  • respects and supports them and their family.

More than 90% noted that Playtime helps their child learn new skills and that our staff and volunteers make their child feel respected and loved, and are skilled at working with youth. This is especially encouraging to hear because we strive to find the most qualified people to manage our programs and the most caring and dedicated volunteers to spend time with the children.

Parents appreciated the healthy snacks, abundance of books, and promotion of social-emotional skills, noting:

  • “He is learning to play better with others.”
  • “Yes, both of my sisters [aged 5 and 8] have started to read more frequently.”
  • “She has interacted with kids her age, so entering daycare will be great.”

Parents also had the chance to give us some “Do Better” suggestions that included adding more volunteers, adding more days or expanding the time of the program, adding more field trips and program activities, and including more activities for older children.

As a small organization, being able to expand programming is heavily dependent on our fundraising efforts and volunteer recruitment. That said, I’m pleased to say that we have made some changes this year that meet some of these requests, including expanding Playtime to one of the overflow shelter motels, adding a Wednesday night program for our infants and toddlers at DC General, and offering a new field trip opportunity, which we will be announcing soon.

In addition to parent feedback, we also received important input from our preteens and teens. Here’s what they had to say about why they come to the Teen or Preteen Program:

  • “I come because the volunteers help you. And if I was not here I would be upstairs bored.”
  • “I come to Preteen night because it helps with my independent skills.”
  • “To get away from the negative things in my room.”
  • “To stay out of trouble…[if I wasn’t here I would be] in trouble.”
  • “I come here because it’s fun and it keeps me active and entertained after school.”
  • “Because I have a good time and I get help with my homework.”

IMG_0589 (2)I was especially moved by the words from one of the parents of a teen we serve: “Playtime helps to resolve or soften the hardship that children go through coming into DC General, as well as the fear or problems of losing their stable environment. We, as adults, may not understand that kids lose out on a lot too … we, as parents, feel they don’t understand. But they do.”

All of this feedback affirms the efforts of our hard-working and committed staff and volunteers, and the financial support from our generous donors. We look forward to redoubling our efforts to meet our families’ needs during this time of uncertainty. Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who provide much needed support in making Playtime a powerful source of stability our children can depend on.

Jamila ran Playtime as a volunteer since it was founded in 2003 and assumed the role as first full-time Executive Director in 2009. In 2012, she was named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine for her leadership of Playtime.