A key function of Projects Abroad is ensuring the health and safety of our volunteers, partners and host communities.
Our Childcare Projects require specific precautions because they often involve working with small children. These precautions are designed to ensure the best interests of the children and the volunteers, as well as the long-term sustainability and worthwhileness of our projects. Here we will outline our approach, standards, and policies for volunteering and working with children.
A focus on community and family-based care
We believe stable family environments are best for the children. That’s why we don’t work in orphanages and instead focus our Childcare projects towards community and family-based care.
Rather than volunteering in orphanages, our volunteers will work in placements like daycare centres, kindergartens, and schools, or support groups for the elderly and mothers and babies.
This helps Projects Abroad build stronger relationships with local communities and – most importantly – help families stay together and flourish.
Read more about our position on orphanage volunteering.
A code of conduct for volunteers working with children
Projects Abroad is committed to protecting children from harm. The best interests of the child are paramount and are the primary consideration in our decision-making. All our volunteers have to adhere to our Child Protection Policy which gives clear rules on to how volunteers should behave around children.
Read our Child Protection Policy.
We follow a few policies to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety for everyone involved with our Childcare Projects.
While any specific policy can change at any time – as we learn from experience or as new best practices emerge in our field – the underlying goal of ensuring safety and worthwhileness remains constant.
Childcare Volunteers must:
- Submit to a background check if they are aged 21+ (or 18 and over in Cambodia, Fiji, Romania, and Thailand).
- Give a professional or academic reference.
- Follow our Child Protection Policy document which will be covered by a member of staff as part of the induction process.
- Participate in workshops and feedback sessions throughout their project.
- Report any cases or suspected cases, of child abuse to Projects Abroad and a locally registered NGO specifically focused on stopping child abuse (designated by Projects Abroad for each country).
- Never take children out of a placement alone or without the advance permission from the placement supervisor and Projects Abroad staff.
- Fill out a feedback form immediately prior to their return home.
Childcare Partner Organisations must:
- Be legally registered to operate in their intended use.
- Sign an agreement with Projects Abroad which covers many topics such as communication and health & safety.
- Allow Projects Abroad staff to visit the placement regularly for monitoring purposes.
Our Childcare Project Mission and Management Plans
Projects Abroad places each of our Childcare volunteers at a placement where there is a real need.
Our mission for our Childcare Projects throughout the world is to provide sustainable educational support, care and protection to disadvantaged children and vulnerable groups to enhance their physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.
In order to work towards this mission, in each of our destinations we produce a detailed management plan. The management plan is created based on the needs in each destination. Our management plans establish our goals for the year and list our actions for achieving these goals.
Through following these management plans we are then able to evaluate our impact at the end of each year and set new goals for the year to come. You can read more general information about the Management Plans here. You can also contact us if you would like to read specific plans.
A longer project is a more worthwhile project
We encourage volunteers on all of our Projects to go for as long as they can. Our advice is: whatever your timeframe, consider stretching it just a little more.
As you spend each week on your project, you become more acclimatised, the children get to know you better, and you get to know them better. As time passes, you learn how things work and have more to contribute.
Some Childcare projects have a minimum duration of 4 weeks. For each project, the minimum required duration is set by our staff in consultation with our local partners with a focus on worthwhileness.
With this said, we do accept volunteers on shorter-term placements where appropriate. Here volunteers require a more structured environment and work increasingly on physical jobs such as repairs and painting. Not all placements have the need or capacity for such work, which is why we treat each on its own merits.
When signing up for even the minimum duration, it's important to maintain realistic expectations. A volunteer who is there for 4 weeks will usually not achieve as much as a volunteer who is there for 8 weeks. There are cumulative benefits.
Something is better than nothing
However, in general we believe that something is better than nothing. We don't agree with those who say that service is an all or nothing choice: either devote your life to it or do nothing at all.
We are also confident that we can use volunteers of all ages and levels of experience to make a positive contribution to our Childcare placements. A big factor in this is the structure of our Projects. This can only be achieved because of our unrivaled standards of staff support.