Volunteers are essential members of the Children's Hospital team and are highly respected throughout the medical center.
The FAQ below will answer many of your questions about volunteering at Children's Hospital.
Q: What are the requirements?
A: Volunteers must be 16 or older, complete application and health clearance forms, pass a background check, and attend a two-hour orientation session. Volunteers do a 30-minute one-on-one interview to determine their best placement and schedule.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Fill out the Volunteer Application and Health Clearance form. Our program is rewarding and fun, but demands a significant service-based commitment on your part. Please carefully consider your schedule and your ability to commit your time.
Q: What is my time commitment?
A: Volunteers keep a regular schedule of one shift per week. Most shifts are four hours long, and nearly all shifts are during regular weekday business hours. Your shift will be "fixed" (same placement, same time, same day each week). You commit to a minimum of 100 hours of service (a six-month continuous commitment).
Q: May I volunteer more than one shift per week?
A: Yes! Many of our volunteers give their time more than once a week, sometimes even in two or more service areas. We are especially interested in recruiting long-term volunteers. Many of our volunteers have been with us for many years and have completed thousands of volunteer hours.
Q: What do volunteers at Children’s do?
A: We’ve posted an extensive list of some of the areas where volunteers serve. Not all areas are open to new volunteers — the Intensive Care Nursery is an example. In addition, we do not place high school-age volunteers in areas which serve a significant adolescent population, such as the Teen Lounge, Rehabilitation Medicine, the School Program or the Emergency Department.
Q: I only need 20 hours of community service for school. Can I fulfill this requirement at Children’s?
A: Our minimum requirement is 100 hours of service. We do not provide references or write letters of recommendation until the minimum 100-hour commitment is met.
Q: I have been ordered by a court to do community service. Can I fulfill this requirement at Children’s?
A: No. We do not accept volunteers doing court-ordered service.
Questions about the Volunteer Application form
Please fill out the Volunteer Application form completely and print legibly in ink. Don’t forget to sign and date your application. If you are under age 18, your parent or legal guardian must also sign. Incomplete forms will not be considered.
Q: Why do you need an emergency name and contact?
A: In the event something happens to you while you are on your volunteer shift, we need to be able to reach someone on your behalf.
Q: Why do you need my Social Security and driver’s license numbers?
A: This information is used for background checks and to verify your identity. This information is not recorded in our database and is not shared with anyone. At Children’s, maintaining privacy and confidentiality — for our patients, staff and volunteers — is a priority.
Q: I speak only a little bit of Spanish. Should I list this under "languages"?
A: YES! Over 60 languages are spoken at Children’s. Our interpreters are involved in medical conversations with families and caregivers, but volunteers play an important role in helping to break the isolation families may feel due to language barriers. Please list any/all languages you are familiar with, including American Sign Language. You may be surprised how often you get to use your language skills in the course of volunteering!
Q: I have many younger brothers and sisters. Does this count as "experience with children?"
A: YES! Having children, younger siblings or being part of a large family, and babysitting all count as experience. Please list this, in addition to any teaching, camp counseling or other relevant experience you have.
Q: If I am younger than 18, do I need my parents to sign the application?
A: Yes. If you are under 18, your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must sign the application.
Q: Who should I list as references?
A: You may list teachers, friends, neighbors, members of church or social groups you belong to, or anyone who can provide a reference to your character and suitability as a volunteer in working with hospitalized children in a diverse setting. Do NOT list relatives.
Questions about the Volunteer Health Clearance form
This step generally takes the longest to complete, depending on your individual health history.
Q: Why do I need to complete a Health Clearance?
A. We need a Volunteer Health Clearance form to show proof that you:
• Have had TWO negative tuberculosis tests (called a PPD) within the last 15 months, including one within the last 3 months
• Have received your immunizations for, or are immune to, rubella, rubeola, mumps and varicella (chicken pox)
• Are in good physical and mental health.
Q: Where do I get a TB/PPD test?
A: You may obtain TB/PPD testing from your own healthcare provider or you may visit Children's Hospital’s Employee Health department during drop-in hours for free testing. You do not need an appointment to come in during these times:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday — 7 to 9 a.m.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday — 2 to 3 p.m.
Remember to bring your Volunteer Health Clearance form when you come for your appointment. Each TB/PPD test is a two-step process and requires two short visits 48 hours apart, so plan your schedule accordingly.
Q: How do I get to your Employee Health office?
A: Please let the ambassador at the front desk of the main hospital know that you would like to visit Employee Health. They will issue the appropriate visitor badge and will give you directions to our Employee Health office.
Q: How long does a TB test take?
A: We use a two-step TB test. On the first day, the test is delivered to your forearm; 48 hours later a nurse "reads" the results of your skin test. The visits are brief, but you must be sure to schedule them so that you can return 48 hours later for a reading.
Q: How long do I have to wait to get my second TB test?
A: You can get your second TB test one week after your first is completed.
Q: What if I know I test positive. Will I have to get a chest x-ray?
A: This is a common experience. If you have a positive test, please bring documentation of a negative chest x-ray done within the last year OR have one done at Children's. Also, please answer the questions on the health form.
Q: How do I prove that I’m immune to rubella, rubeola, and mumps?
A: Photocopies of immunization records showing that you have had an MMR vaccination and booster can serve as proof. If you received your first immunization as an infant, make sure you also received a second MMR booster after you turned 4. Your physician may also complete this section of the questionnaire (they must also rubber stamp their signature).
If you cannot locate your immunization records, you should get a blood titer test, a small draw of blood from which your immunity is measured. Your own healthcare provider may conduct a blood titer test, or you may use a public health clinic such as the Eastmont Wellness Center.
Children’s does not provide blood titer tests, nor does Children’s provide booster shots for prospective volunteers.
Q: How do I prove that I am immune to varicella (chicken pox)?
A: By demonstrating a verbal history verified by a healthcare provider; by vaccination with two doses of Varivax; or by a blood test that shows immunity to varicella.
Q: Do I have to answer all the questions in the General Health section?
A: Yes, answer all the questions. If you are not sure whether you’ve had chicken pox, answer "no" and consult your healthcare provider about receiving a chicken pox vaccine. Please let us know if you have any limitations, or visit our Employee Health department during drop-in hours to discuss this before submitting your application.
Q: What should I provide as proof of my immunizations?
A: A photocopy of your immunization record, such as an immunization card, is acceptable. If you received your first immunization as an infant, make sure you also received a second MMR booster after you turned 4. Your physician may also complete this section of the form. They need to provide a signature as well as to rubber stamp their office information for verification.
Q: I think I had my immunizations as a child, but I cannot find my records.
A: This is a common experience. If you cannot find records of your immunization, you may prove your immunity by having a blood titer test. A blood titer requires a small blood draw so your antigen level or immunity can be measured directly. If you do not show immunity, you may need to have an MMR booster.
Q: Does Children’s offer the blood titer or MMR booster?
A: We do not conduct blood titer tests for volunteers nor do we offer MMR booster shots for volunteers. Your physician may provide these for you or you may contact a health clinic. Adult, non-student, uninsured volunteers can speak with Employee Health about other options.
Q: For personal reasons, I have not received immunizations for MMR. May I still volunteer?
A: No. All staff and volunteers at Children’s must be immunized for rubella, rubeola and mumps.
Q: I don’t remember whether I’ve had chicken pox. How should I answer this question?
A: If you are not sure whether you’ve had chicken pox, please answer “No” to this question. If you have not had Chicken Pox or are not sure, be sure to obtain a blood titer showing immunity or two doses of Varicella (Chicken Pox) vaccine. Please include this documentation with your application and Health Clearance form.
Q: I’ve filled out my application and Health Clearance Form. Now what do I do?
A: Mail your completed application and health clearance form, including photocopies of any necessary supporting documentation, to:
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
747 52nd Street
Oakland, CA 94609
Or you may fax it to the Volunteer Department at (510) 597-7133. Please include a cover sheet indicating your name, phone number, and total number of pages being faxed.
Q: I’ve mailed my application and health form. What happens next?
A: We will review your application for completeness. We send a short form to the references you’ve listed, as well as conduct a background check. This process takes about two weeks.
Q: Then what?
A: Once these steps are completed, we will invite you to attend a New Volunteer Orientation. Orientation is a two-hour meeting, generally held once a month. Attendance is mandatory for all incoming volunteers.
You will also be scheduled for a placement interview, about 30 minutes long, during weekday business hours. At this interview we will discuss your skills, experience, schedule, areas of interest, and our needs and availabilities, to determine the best match for you in our volunteer program. For many positions, additional training may be required. We’ll decide that at your interview.
At Volunteer Orientation you will learn about the history of the hospital, how the Volunteer Program fits with the mission of Children’s Hospital Oakland, and your responsibilities as a volunteer. You will also learn important health and safety information about volunteering in our hospital and clinics.
Volunteering is fun, rewarding, and an essential part of Children’s Hospital.
We look forward to you joining our program!
If you have questions about volunteering or completing the forms, call the volunteer office at (510) 428-3471 and choose option 2.