Volunteer for the Parent Helpline

The Parent Helpline provides information and referral services to parents, professionals, kids and others concerned about a child or family in New York State. Calls typically focus on family issues involving child abuse and neglect, custody and visitation, parenting education and support, family court and the child protective system, legal issues, housing and emergency and basic needs. Often, callers are struggling with many or all of these issues.

The Parent Helpline relies on volunteers in order to provide service to New York's families every day of the year. Volunteers are trained in active listening, information and referral skills and content areas that relate to family support and child abuse prevention.

Basic Training
The required 10-15 hour training covers:

  • A formal presentation that covers active listening, the importance of empathy and remaining non-judgmental, information and referral skills, New York's child protective and other relevant systems, and other pertinent skills and topic areas.
  • Observation of an experienced Helpline Specialist answer calls. The listening skills used by the Specialist are discussed, along with the rationale for the referrals given. A demonstration of the referral database is given, along with instruction for navigating it.
  • Role playing with an experienced Helpline Specialist. Volunteers participate in mock calls to practice what they've learned in training. Case studies and scripts for common Helpline scenarios are also discussed.

Ongoing supervision and support from Helpline Specialists is provided.

Staffing the Helpline
The Helpline operates everyday from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. After 10 p.m. calls are forwarded to an answering service and returned the next morning. Volunteers cover the following shifts:

  • Mon-Fri 5-10 p.m.
  • Sat-Sun 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Sat-Sun 12-5 p.m.
  • Sat-Sun. 5-10 p.m.

Volunteers are asked to commit to at least a year of service to the Helpline and take one to two shifts per week, totaling 5-10 hours.

Once trained, volunteers answer calls from their homes on cell phones provided by PCANY.

Information and Application
If you're interested in learning more, call 518-445-1273 or email through our web site. You can also complete our volunteer application and mail it to Prevent Child Abuse New York, 33 Elk Street, 2nd Floor, Albany, NY 12207 or fax it to 518-445-1273.