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Where Do I Find Great Volunteers for Special Needs Classrooms?

Finding volunteers called to service in special needs ministry may be one of your most difficult tasks. In my experience, I’ve found volunteers who are a great fit through the following people groups.

Where Do I Find Great Volunteers for Special Needs Classrooms?

Youth group kids

There are mature teenagers who make great volunteers. Serving gives them a role and an opportunity to become involved in their church community. Youth tend to be great at encouraging peer friendships, which is so important in a church family.

People in health care

Chances are if you have doctors, nurses, or therapists at your church, they’ve had experience working with children or adults with disabilities.


It may surprise you how well this group assists others, and some may even have a grandchild with a disability. Retirees also often have more time to invest into building a relationship with a child and his or her family. Their life experience and wisdom can be the greatest blessing to a family who needs to see God’s love and care at church.

Special education students

It’s okay to look beyond your church. Special education college students may benefit from the one-on-one time that a children’s ministry can provide. The best part is, if they don’t have a relationship with God, they’ll hear about him while they’re volunteering.

Disabled adults

There are many disabled adults who are fully capable of being one-to-one helpers. Who better to come alongside a family than someone who understands from personal experience?

Ellen Stumbo is the director of Disability Matters, where she encourages every church to embrace disability.

Want more volunteer management ideas? Check out these articles!

2 thoughts on “Where Do I Find Great Volunteers for Special Needs Classrooms?

  1. First of all, I’m glad that awareness of special needs in churches is growing. I also love many of the suggestions you give here about recruiting volunteers. I particularly love the idea of youth volunteers to work with children with special needs, since having a youth by their side is usually cool, while having an assigned adult can be less pleasant for the child. This is especially true for 5th graders. I also love the idea of asking college students to volunteer who are majoring in special education. They likely don’t get enough exposure to working with these children during their program until they start student teaching, so they could learn a lot from your children. They can also take advantage of the cool factor in building relationships. One thing to note is that they should still be given tips on supporting each child, just as you would one of your youth volunteers or retirees. If you want to, you could even have a panel presentation for them with experienced special education teachers, occupational and speech therapists, parents, disabled adults, and maybe even some of the children themselves. This would give the students time to learn what people want them to knoww. In addition to special education students, you might also consider asking elementary education students to volunteer. Many of them will interact with children with disabilities in school classrooms, and they could learn from this.

    While I wouldn’t actively discourage you from recruiting healthcare workers as volunteers, I want to caution you that they can be just as ableist as the rest of society. They may be even more ableist, since they are rooted in the medical model of disability rather than the social model.

    I’d love if you’d write an article about people’s experiences incorporating disabled adults as one-on-one volunteers and if there was anything special you did to make their experience better.

    • Sierra Archuleta

      Hi there!
      Thank you so much for your valued feedback and insight on this topic. I really love your article idea as well and sent your idea over to our editor team. Blessings!

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