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Are Volunteers Helpful?

April 8, 2008
by Doug Edwards
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I heard on the radio last night about an idea to make community service mandatory for young people—a "civic duty" draft. The commentator noted the pros and cons to this approach to increase civic engagement, endorsed by such influential people as John McCain. I wonder if nonprofit behavioral healthcare organizations would welcome an influx of volunteers, or is sometimes managing people from outside the organization too much of a hassle for harried staff? You can comment anonymously if you prefer.

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As much as we need the heads and hands in our organization, we actually can't "afford" volunteers. Given the requirements of accrediting bodies, external regulators, HIPAA, and the list goes on the expense of orienting, training, supervising, etc, is cost prohibitive. One can imagine the reporting and other requirements of a government-sponsored volunteer program. Long ago, I experienced this directly while administering a Retired Senior Volunteer Program and a Foster Grandparent Program. Good ideas, but it probably cost more to administer those programs than the funding itself.

Doug Edwards

Vice President and Managing Director

Doug Edwards

http://www.behavioral.net

Doug Edwards is Vice President and Managing Director of Vendome Healthcare Media’s Mental Health...