Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteering

General Volunteer Information

How old do you have to be to volunteer?

All volunteers in the Hospital Volunteer Program must be 18 years of age. Our Teen Volunteer Program accepts applicants ages 15 to 17 only in the Summer months.

How can I become a volunteer at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC?

Review the application information page, both for what to consider prior to beginning the application process and the dates that applications will be accepted for the different categories of volunteers. Due to the volume of applications that are received, the Volunteer Services Office will be actively accepting applications only during the time periods listed. The specific steps for completing the application in its entirety are listed at the bottom of the page.

Are applicants available online?

Yes. Visit the application information page for information about the application process and a link to the online application. The link is only available during open enrollment periods.

If a program is not currently accepting volunteers, can I be put on a wait list? 

Due to a high interest from our community and large volume of volunteer applications we receive, we are not able to wait list prospective volunteers at this time. We review volunteer assignments and programs regularly to monitor openings, availability of applicants, and screen applications for best fit. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we remove all applications from our system every four months. 

I have a group that wants to volunteer for a day of service at the hospital, how can we go about scheduling this?

At this time we are able to accommodate a very limited amount of group requests. If you are interested in bringing a small group to Children’s Hospital, please notify us by email, chpvolunteer@chp.edu. Consistent support from our hospital program volunteers best meets the needs of the hospital and the needs of our patients and families. 

What types of activities would I do as a volunteer?

The focus of the volunteer program at Children's Hospital is supporting and nurturing children and families. Generally, volunteer assignments are classified into five areas: direct work with children, family support, technical/specialized positions, hospitality and office/clerical positions. Volunteers provide valuable support to many areas of the hospital. 

Some examples of volunteer duties include helping children with crafts, greeting families in the waiting areas and serving as an information resource, assisting with administrative tasks, escorting patients to special events, or distributing informational and recreational materials to patients and families. 

Can I hold babies? Is there a baby-rocking program for volunteers?

We do not offer a baby-rocking program. volunteers under the supervision of our Child Life staff interact with children of all age groups, including infants.

Can I select which unit and hours I choose to volunteer?

Volunteer assignments and hours will be discussed during your personal interview. Children's Hospital will work with you to best match your individual interests, working style, talents and skills and scheduling availability to the needs of our patients, families, and staff. 

I have a full-time weekday job. Can I volunteer outside my workday commitments? Are there evening or weekend volunteering opportunities? 

Yes. Children’s has evening and weekend volunteer opportunities for individuals who work full-time during the day. Please note that these opportunities are very popular and frequently have limited openings available. View our Volunteer Openings (PDF) to review what is currently available for this enrollment period.

What happens if I can't make it into the hospital on any given day?

Volunteers are asked to notify both their assignment supervisor and the Volunteer Services Office on days they are unable to be in attendance.

What perks do volunteers enjoy at Children's Hospital? 

There are many benefits of volunteering at Children’s. View a list of volunteer perks.

Do you provide TB testing for volunteers? What happens if I have a positive TB test history?

Yes. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Employee Health Office provide TB testing for volunteer applicants and annually thereafter to volunteers at no cost. All new volunteers must provide documentation of a 2-step TB test. This means that you should have two separate TB shot placements, and have your arm read within 48 to 72 hours of your placement to ensure a negative result.   

If you have had a prior positive TB skin test, or have experienced a severe allergic reaction to the Mantoux solution, you should NOT receive additional TB skin tests. You will be required to take Quantiferon Gold blood test with Children’s Hospital Employee Health Office or provide documentation of this blood test from within the past six months. Please note that all volunteer applicants under 18 years of age must have a parental permission form signed to receive immunizations from the CHP Employee Health office.   

Will I have an opportunity to interact with hospital professionals and pursue my interests in a health care career?

Although volunteers work closely with many members of Children's medical and support teams, our volunteers are focused on meeting the needs of patients and families during their volunteer experience. If you are interested in a health care career, volunteering will allow you to gain insight to the hospital environment and supporting the needs of patients and families. 

Volunteering at Children's will not, however, provide any job shadowing or clinical experiences. Those opportunities, if available, are coordinated directly by the hospital department. Additionally, the Volunteer Service Department can provide a letter verifying volunteer hours of service.

I've been instructed to do court-ordered community service. Can I complete these volunteer hours at Children's Hospital? 

No. We do not offer volunteer opportunities for court-ordered service at Children’s.

How can I receive additional information?

For more information, or to request a volunteer application packet via mail, contact the Volunteer Services Department at 412-692-5185 or e-mail chpvolunteer@chp.edu.

Experience and Requirements for Volunteering

What time commitment is required of volunteers at Children's Hospital?

Adult candidates will be asked to commit to a minimum of one shift (usually 3-4 hours) per week, with an initial commitment period of 6 to 12 months (one year).

Is prior hospital experience, special training, or education necessary?

While prior hospital experience is always useful, it is not required. In addition, professional communication skills, reliability, responsibility, flexibility, ability to work in a team and with a diverse group of people, and punctuality are essential. 

I'm a college student and can't make the year-round commitment of 3-4 hours of service a week. Am I still able to volunteer at Children's?

YES! College students are a valuable part of our volunteer force and we have created distinct schedules to specifically meet the needs of college students. Find out more information by visiting the College Students Volunteer Program webpage.

What is required in addition to the online application to complete my volunteer application?

TWO online letters of reference are required. These references can be either professional or personal. For the Teen Volunteer Program, at least one reference must be from a staff member at the teen applicant’s school. Potential references may include former or current co-workers, supervisors, professors or neighbors. References from immediate or extended family members of any volunteer applicant are not accepted. Only when both references have been received will the application be reviewed and an applicant will be contacted to schedule an interview.

What are the additional required steps for becoming a volunteer after I have completed an interview?

Volunteers are required to have a tuberculosis test, which is offered by the hospital and selected UPMC Employee Health office locations free of charge. All volunteers will be required to receive a flu shot during the flu season (October through March). All volunteers must submit required clearances (Act 33/34/73: PA Child Abuse History, PA State Police Criminal Record Check, and FBI Criminal Background Check Fingerprinting). 

All potential volunteers must also be willing to make a scheduled commitment. Volunteers are also required to attend an orientation session (which are hosted monthly) prior to beginning their volunteer experience. Once volunteers begin, they receive additional orientation and education to their particular assignment and area of the hospital. 

Information about the Teen Volunteer Program

Are teen volunteers accepted?

Teens, ages 15 to 17, are invited to apply for the summer program beginning in March. This program has become extremely popular and spots fill up fast! Application packets are made available online in early March and we encourage applying as soon as the applications are posted. Visit our Teen Volunteer Program webpage for additional information.

Download the Teen Volunteer Program Frequently Asked Questions.

I need to fulfill community service hours for my school, how many hours do I need to commit to as a volunteer at Children's or can I simply meet my school's requirements?

Teen Volunteer Program volunteers will be asked to commit a minimum of 35 to 40 hours of service during each summer in the program.

I want my child to spend time assisting the patients at Children's Hospital. He/she is mature and would benefit greatly from the experience.

Due to a variety of reasons, children under the age of 15 are not permitted to participate in our Volunteer Program or come for same day visits with patients. When they turn 15, they will be eligible to participate in the Teen Volunteer Program.

I am working on my senior project- can I complete my project at Children's?

Unfortunately, we do not facilitate individual opportunities for volunteering at the hospital outside of our established volunteer programs. However, we encourage students to complete projects in the community which can benefit the patients and families of Children’s Hospital. For additional information about taking part in a service project to support the patients and families of Children’s Hospital, visit our Service Projects webpage.