Frequently Asked Questions
As a community, we are mindful of our shared responsibility to create safe, nurturing environments for our students. MCPS is grateful for your commitment and partnership. Below are answers to frequently asked questions to help clarify volunteer training and background check requirements.
Who can be a volunteer?
Volunteers may include parents/guardians and other family members, as well as members of the community interested in the education of children, who are willing to donate their time and skills to support the students of Montgomery County.
How do I become a volunteer?
All volunteers who regularly support schools and school sponsored activities must complete the MCPS online Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: For Volunteers and Contractors. This training requirement also applies to student teachers and interns; volunteers who regularly help with school dismissal or recess; and those who attend field trips and chaperone outdoor education. The online training is provided in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Korean, Amharic, and Vietnamese.
Does everyone who provides support for schools and students need to complete the MCPS online training?
While we encourage all volunteers to view the informative training, currently only individuals who regularly support schools must complete the Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect training. Individuals who support at large events or those who assist at one-time events under the supervision of school staff members are not required to view the training at this time. Below are examples of the types of activities that do not require completion of the training:
- Guest readers or speakers in classrooms where they will be supervised by a MCPS staff member
- High school/college recruiters and volunteers at job and college fairs
- Individuals who are observing or supporting a celebration, party, or parents/guardians eating lunch with their children
- Individuals staffing concessions and ticket booths at large events
How will MCPS know that I have completed the training?
Participation is recorded and tracked by MCPS. A confirmation message verifying you competed the course will be sent to the email address you provided. The online training also provides users with an opportunity to print the certificate when completed. This certificate is valid at any MCPS school and is kept on file with the school or office where the volunteer is serving.
If I completed the MCPS training in the 2016-2017 school year, do I have to take it again in the 2017-2018 school year?
If MCPS records show that you completed the online MCPS Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect training in the 2016-2017 school year, you do not need to repeat it in the 2017-2018 school year. However, individuals are required to complete the training at least once every three years to continue volunteering. For example:
- If you completed training in 2016-2017, you must renew training in 2020-2021 (one-year extension)
- If you completed training in 2017-2018, you must renew training in 2020-2021
- If you completed training in 2018-2019, you must renew training in 2021-2022
Once I've completed the MCPS online Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect training can I begin volunteering?
Yes, however the school you wish to volunteer must have verification that you have completed training. Volunteer coaches, overnight or extended day chaperones must wait until their criminal background check and fingerprinting results have been returned (see below).
How do I find volunteer opportunities?
The best way to begin volunteering is to contact the school directly. Each school tailors its volunteer opportunities to meet the needs of the school and can vary.
What procedures do I follow when volunteering?
To best support school staff and students, volunteers are expected to follow these procedures each time they volunteer:
- Sign-in and out of the building using the Visitor Management System (VMS).
- Wear the VMS produced volunteer identification name tag at all times while on school property.
- Volunteers may not access confidential student or personnel records, and should otherwise respect the confidentiality of all student information.
- When working with students, volunteers must be within view of other MCPS staff members and avoid unsupervised, one-on-one student contact.
- Volunteers may not discipline students and should report behavior concerns to the supervising staff member.
Are there are certain categories of volunteers who must complete background checks and fingerprinting?
Yes, they include the following:
- Volunteer coaches
- Overnight chaperones on grade 6 Outdoor Environmental Education Programs
- Volunteers on overnight field trips
- Volunteer on extended day trips (e.g., out of area or state or beyond school day hours) that require additional approval from the Office of School Support and Improvement
Where do I get information about background checks and fingerprinting?
Background checks and fingerprinting information can be found at here and location information can be found here.
Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns about my role as a volunteer, required volunteer training and/or background checks?
The best way to get additional information is to contact the school you wish to volunteer directly, or you can contact Shella B. Cherry, Student Leadership and Volunteers Coordinator, at 240-314-1039. We also invite you to read our MCPS Volunteer Regulation to learn more about the requirements and expectations of school volunteers.
Where can I learn about other MCPS safety procedures?
You can learn about other MCPS safety procedures by visiting the Safety and Security website. Here you will find information about school security procedures and protocols, cybersecurity, emergency preparedness, and much more.