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1000 Office of Volunteer and Community Engagement Overview

VCE October 2016

The Office of Volunteer and Community Engagement (OVCE) is a unit within the Department of Family and Protective Services under External Relations whose purpose is to ensure that the community is involved and contributes to DFPS work through donations, volunteer work, or partnerships.

Community engagement is how our staff build positive, ongoing, permanent relationships with stakeholders and community partners for the purpose of supporting the DFPS mission and goals, and more importantly, improving outcomes for our children and families.

Specifically, this might look like:

  •  Conducting presentations for civic and professional organizations

  •  Holding Community meetings to gain stakeholder input

  •  Networking at local or statewide events and conferences

  •  Connecting families with community services

  •  Collaborating with community partners to have events that benefit DFPS clients, such as fundraising drives, awareness events, etc.

1100 OVCE Resources

VCE October 2016

This handbook contains the rules and guidelines for DFPS staff who engage with community stakeholders or are responsible for volunteers.

The OVCE includes program-specific and general OVCE staff at state office as well as program-specific staff at regional locations across the state.

In addition to this policy handbook, there is an OVCE area of the DFPS intranet which includes:

  •  Contact information for state office and regional OVCE staff

  •  Job aids for OVCE staff

  •  The Volunteer Guidebook which can be printed and handed out to volunteers

  •  Forms related to OVCE

  •  Training that is available to DFPS staff on OVCE related topics

1200 Definitions

VCE October 2016

Background Check

A name-based criminal history check that is requested through the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) database of crimes committed in Texas. Results consist of Texas-based arrests and dispositions, including convictions and cases with unknown dispositions, and may contain juvenile criminal history.

Volunteers seeking a placement that requires a background check must fully complete Form 0250 Volunteer Application, which authorizes DFPS to complete the background check.

Volunteers who are given IMPACT access are subject to the same background check requirements as DFPS employees who have such access. Specific determinations are up to the discretion of OVCE and state office legal staff.

Community Engagement Specialist (CES)

CPS or APS regional or district staff member responsible for the development and implementation of DFPS volunteer services in their respective area.

Community Partner Coordinator

Also known as a rainbow room coordinator. A CPS staff member who maintains a resource room and facilitates the resource partnership. This staff member may maintain one resource room or several resource rooms throughout a region.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

A document used to articulate and formalize a mutual agreement between partners. The MOU is an agreement used to outline each partner’s commitment to work collaboratively toward a common purpose or goal.


Also known as: external partner organization, partner organization, or community partner. An organization in the community that has a formal agreement, or memorandum of understanding to work with DFPS on a specific project. For example, the CPS and APS resource rooms are set up and funded by a community partner to help ensure CPS and APS clients get basic supplies.

Rainbow Room Coordinator

Also known as a community partner coordinator. A CPS staff member who maintains a resource room and facilitates the resource partnership. This staff member may maintain one resource room or several resource rooms throughout a region.

Resource Room

A store-like setting where caseworkers obtain emergency supplies or special requests for clients (such as formula, diapers, cleaning supplies, lice treatment, clothing, hygiene, small furniture, and other items). This allows caseworkers to focus on clients’ case needs. These resource rooms are usually called “Rainbow Rooms” in CPS, and “Silver Star” or “Bridge Rooms” in APS.


Individuals or groups who have an interest in, or are affected by, the success or viability of a DFPS service. Stakeholders, unlike partners, are not required to participate in DFPS projects, and have not entered into any informal or formal agreement that they will work with DFPS. However, the OVCE encourages engagement with stakeholders because stakeholders can positively influence programs, products, or services.


A person, group, or organization that performs a service with, for, or on behalf of DFPS without financial compensation. Reimbursement of travel and out-of-pocket expenses are not considered payment for services.

Registered Volunteer

A volunteer who has committed to providing services to DFPS on a longer term or ongoing basis, completed the volunteer packet, and has a personnel file or record. Only registered volunteers are covered by DFPS insurance.

Volunteer With Direct Access

A volunteer who is reasonably likely in the course of their employment to:

  •  have direct physical access to a DFPS client;

  •  communicate directly in any manner with a DFPS client;

  •  obtain physical access to the home or living quarters of a DFPS client; or

  •  obtain or access any confidential or sensitive data or information.

Volunteers who may come in contact with clients or confidential information must pass a criminal background check and must sign Form 0251 Volunteer Confidentiality Statement before beginning any volunteer duties.

Examples include situations in which:

  •  personal contact is made between the volunteer and client (such as a case aide, hotline volunteer, or resource room assistant);

  •  personal identifying information is readily available for inadvertent or planned review (such as foster or adoption recruiting, or office assistants); or

  •  client or case identifying information is divulged to arrange services (such as community boards, photo shoots, transport, or Christmas deliveries).

Volunteer With No Direct Access

A volunteer with no client contact or access to confidential client information. A volunteer with no direct access does not need to pass a criminal background check; however, he or she must understand and sign Form 0251 Volunteer Confidentiality Statement. A volunteer with no direct client contact or access to confidential client information must still be supervised by at least one DFPS staff member in charge of that volunteer position or initiative.

1300 OVCE Structure

VCE October 2016

Designated staff with the Office of Volunteer and Community Engagement include:

  •  State office staff who are not specific to a program to organize and administer OVCE coordination, programs, policies, and procedures for all of DFPS;

  •  Program Specific State Office Staff (CPS, APS, SWI, CCL, PEI); and

  •  Regional/District Community Engagement and resource room staff.

All DFPS staff, whether they are in a designated OVCE position or not, may have occasions where they are involved in community engagement. This policy handbook details how staff are supposed to interact with the public in terms of donations and community engagement.

1310 APS and CPS Regional/District Community Engagement Specialists

VCE October 2016

Regional/District specialists are responsible for the development and implementation of DFPS volunteer services and volunteer management coordination in their respective areas. Regional/District management designates program Community Engagement staff who:

  •  conduct or oversee volunteer initiatives and reporting for program in that region; and

  •  serve as liaisons to the state office community engagement specialist.

Community engagement specialists must:

  •  know what community engagement activities are happening in the region or program;

  •  support program staff with policies, technical assistance, and best practices;

  •  plan and organize regional/district activities and training needs as requested by management; and

  •  build regional/district relations and partnerships and support the regional/district management team with expertise.

1320 Regional/District Directors and Program Administrators

VCE October 2016

Although not dedicated OVCE staff, regional/district directors and program administrators are responsible for:

  •  prioritizing activities according to statewide DFPS and program goals, regional/district needs, and limited resources;

  •  modeling best practices for successful community engagement;

  •  ensuring open communication and inclusiveness of others; and

  •  maintaining a presence in the community.

1330 All DFPS Employees

VCE October 2016

DFPS staff may not:

  •  write grants for external partners;

  •  be responsible for an external partner’s resource room (RR) or other bookkeeping;

  •  maintain membership lists of community members or clients - for a list of volunteers, see your community engagement specialist in the region;

  •  enter or reconcile inventory;

  •  shop to stock a resource room, unless there is an applicable exception in:

2110 When a Resource Room Has No Dedicated Staff

  •  maintain control of gift card access, tracking, or reconciliation;

  •  conduct fundraising of any kind on the external partner’s behalf;

  •  serve as an external partner’s registered agent;

  •  serve on a Community Partner Committee or board (If staff are asked to attend a board meeting on behalf of DFPS as either a liaison or presenter, they should consult with the regional/district community engagement staff member. A statutory authority or directive for staff to sit on a community board (such as with Child Advocacy Centers) creates an exception to this rule); or

  •  In accordance with Internal Audit determinations, DFPS staff may not use credit cards belonging to external partner accounts.

1400 Protecting Client Confidentiality

VCE October 2016

The confidentiality of clients must be protected at all times. When a volunteer group or volunteer works directly with a DFPS client, the client must sign Form C105-0252 Release of Confidential Information for Volunteer Services to give DFPS permission to release personal information.

When an information release form is necessary, the client must sign the form before DFPS releases any information, and staff must document the existence of the release in the client’s case record.

If a child is involved, the child’s guardian must sign the form. However, this policy does not apply to children in conservatorship.

Any Memoranda of Understanding between DFPS and a volunteer organization that will provide services directly to DFPS clients must contain a provision for the protection of client confidentiality and outline the scope of the services.

1500 Ensuring Client Safety

VCE October 2016

Partners and staff work together to ensure that organized activities and initiatives include precautions to provide a safe environment for clients.

All participants choosing to attend an event created specifically for clients must authorize and pass a DFPS background check (unless otherwise noted in 5200 Volunteer Groups). An abbreviated procedure is in place for vendors participating in planned events (see 7210 Background Checks for Employees of Donating Vendors).

1600 Legal Requirements for Volunteer Programs

VCE October 2016

Federal Law

Federal law requires DFPS to provide for the use of non-paid volunteers in providing services and in assisting any advisory committees established by DFPS.

(b)  Provide for the use of nonpaid or partially paid volunteers in providing services and in assisting any advisory committees established by the State agency and for that purpose provide for:

(1)  A position in which rests responsibility for the development, organization, and administration of the volunteer program, and for coordination of the program with related functions;

(2)  Methods of recruitment and selection which will assure participation of volunteers of all income levels in planning capacities and service provision;

(3)  A program for organized training and supervision of such volunteers;

(4)  Meeting the costs incident to volunteer service and assuring that no individual shall be deprived of the opportunity to serve because of the expenses involved in such service; and

(5)  Annual progressive expansion of the numbers of volunteers utilized, until the volunteer program is adequate for the achievement of the agency’s service goals.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 45, §225.2(b)

State Law

State law requires all governmental entities, including DFPS, to:

  •  develop a volunteer program; and

  •  consider volunteers a resource that requires advanced planning and preparation for effective use.

Texas Government Code §2109.003

A volunteer program must include:

  •  an effective training program for paid staff and prospective volunteers;

  •  the use of paid staff to plan and implement the volunteer program;

  •  an evaluation mechanism to assess:

  •  the performance of the volunteers,

  •  the cooperation of paid staff with the volunteers; and,

  •  the volunteer program.

  •  The program must also include follow-up studies to ensure the effectiveness of the program.

In addition to these requirements, a volunteer program may also:

  •  establish a program to reimburse volunteers for actual and necessary expenses;

  •  establish an insurance program to protect volunteers;

  •  cooperate with private organizations that provide services similar to those provided by DFPS; and

  •  purchase engraved certificates, plaques, pins, or other awards of a similar nature, with a value that does not exceed $75 for each volunteer, to recognize special achievement and outstanding service of volunteers.

Texas Government Code §2109.004

1700 Equal Opportunity for Volunteers

VCE October 2016

DFPS staff must recruit and place volunteers without regard to age, race, sex, religion, color, national origin, political belief, or disability.

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