PAL FAQs

Interested in becoming a PAL?
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers to consider as you’re applying!

Interested in becoming a PAL?
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers to consider as you’re applying!

Who can be a PAL?

  • Anyone over 18 years old or 16- and 17-year olds with parental supervision
  • Strong interest in working with children ages 0-6 and sensitivity to homeless issues is required
  • Playspaces are very active environments, so PALs must be able to be physically and mentally engaging with young children; specifically, a PAL must be able to lift and hold infants/toddlers, move from a standing to seated position on the floor, bend down and lift 25-30lbs., maintain appropriate boundaries, and make sound decisions about safety in a busy environment

What does a PAL do?

  • Use a playful approach to enhance the social, physical, and emotional development of the children who visit our Playspaces
  • Prepare and lead age appropriate activities, games, and/or projects with children in family shelters in Massachusetts
  • Foster healthy interactions and play with children, and promote the strengthening of self-confidence and positive self-esteem
  • Maintain communications with Playspace Program staff

How do I get started as a PAL?
For the safety of our children the following is required prior to starting as a PAL:

  • Complete this online application
  • Engage in a pre-screening phone call with a Horizons staff member
  • Attend the 3-hour PAL orientation
  • Complete a CORI criminal background check
  • Complete a SORI sexual offender background check
  • Provide information for 2 references

What are the children like in the shelters?

  • Playspaces are designed for children ages 0-6, but we welcome children who are a little older who can enjoy the toys and materials provided, and feel successful in the space
  • They are wonderful, thoughtful, creative, and imaginative children that reside in the shelter with at least one parent and possibly other siblings
  • Many of the children are experiencing toxic stress from the instability of their early years, but having access to the Playspace Program and caring adult volunteers truly helps them cope and develop resiliency for the future

What is the time commitment to be a PAL?

  • Based on your schedule and availability, once you become a PAL you will be assigned to one shelter where you will attend one 2-hour shift a week for a minimum of 6 months
  • Playspace shifts are available Monday-Thursday with the majority operating between 5-8pm; there is some daytime availability depending on the needs of the shelter (shift schedules are set in partnership with each shelter)

What training does a PAL receive?

  • Initial orientation and training (3 hours)
  • Ongoing support and continuing education opportunities
  • Additional training on domestic violence may be required at some domestic violence programs

What are you looking for in a PAL?

  • We are looking for people who want to make a difference in their community and positively impact the lives of young homeless children through play
  • We want PALs who are caring, creative, consistent, and want to have fun and be silly (if you like Play-doh, costumes, arts & crafts, story-reading, and making a child’s day, then this is the volunteer opportunity for you!)
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