Sticky Note: Don’t hold front door open any longer than necessary or ever prop doors. Do not allow Door 119 (door between shelter and admin) to be left open or held open for long periods of time. If checking in with shelter staff regarding an individual presenting at the front door for services do not speak the person’s name out loud in the shelter waiting area as confidentiality may be broken. Bring the name to staff, or check the shelter approval list that hangs in the crisis line office. Thank you.
At a domestic violence shelter it is important that the procedure followed by anyone answering the door or phone be consistent. If you are Middle Way House admin staff, please read and review the information provided here frequently. If you are sitting at the front desk as staff or volunteer, please remember to have this page open on one of your browser tabs, in whatever browser you are using.
The root building blocks for dealing with any of the situations that may be presented at the front door of our organization are:
- Maintaining a high priority for the safety and confidentiality of all clients.
- Remembering that we are an organization that believes in the people that come to us for services.
- Staying as informed and up to date regarding shelter situations, policies and procedures as possible.
Please refer to the links to the left for assistance and to the links above the page for community referral resources. The icons at the upper left will link you to the Middle Way House website, along with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages.
If you are volunteering, Thank you for volunteering!
A good starting point in training yourself for working the front desk is to review our page on Telephone Etiquette.
One rule that must not be broken is that we never let people know who is in shelter. Period. And we also never let them know if someone is NOT in shelter. If the wrong person is in possession of that information, a potential exists for harm to happen to someone who trusted our organization to protect and help them.
Neither Confirm Nor Deny Procedure:
If a person calls or comes to the front door and wants to speak with someone they believe is in shelter you must give a very close version of the following statement to them: “I can neither confirm nor deny if >>>>>>>is here; What I CAN do is leave a message so if that person should happen to be here they will have a chance to respond to it. We wish to be as helpful as possible, but we can never guarantee that this message is received, just as we can neither confirm nor deny if that person is here.
This rule must be consistently followed.
Sign in Sheets:
When the person coming to the front door is a person here for administrative/donations/board/ or building maintenance purposes we ask them to sign in. It is important that each of these people be asked to read the top of the sign in sheet as it makes clear to them the privacy needs of people they may see while they are here. People dropping off donation items are not required to sign in, and they may also request and be offered an in-kind donor donation form.
If someone seeking services comes to the front door, do not require them to sign in, as this would make their name public to anyone else who signs in. Ask for their first name, and ask if they have already spoken with someone over the phone. If they are here to see Legal, page legal. Legal staff usually come up front to retrieve their appointments. If they request legal assistance without an appointment, simply ask them to wait in the sitting area and retrieve a legal advocate if one is available. If a legal advocate is not available, write down a message with the information required for a call from a legal advocate, or suggest a better time for them to come in. Throw away the carbon copy of the message, and put the original copy into a legal advocate mailbox.
If the person is seeking shelter services or crisis services of any sort, as before, ask for their first name and ask if they have spoken with anyone in shelter prior to coming. If they haven’t, assure them that this is okay. Be aware that a person coming to us for services may be blunt, disoriented, or extremely nervous about coming to the front door and in whatever way you have learned from your life experience show compassion for them. However…..if they start to share their story with you, give them the kindness of assuring them that an advocate will be here to listen to them and that it is best for them to wait and share their information with the advocate. People who have experienced trauma should not have to talk about their trauma any more times than necessary and you serve them best by encouraging them to wait to explain their situation to the advocate who will meet with them.
Bring the person to the back intake room (commonly referred to as the spa room) and arrange for a shelter or crisis intervention advocate to meet with them. Please remember that the basic one day volunteer training does not grant you access to the shelter, so if you have not completed the CISC training, you will not be able to enter the shelter to ask for an advocate, therefore you will need to find another staff person with shelter access, or directly call the intercom number of an advocate to let them know there is a client in the spa room. Give their first name and let them know if the person stated they had spoken with anyone prior to arriving.
IF you are a CISC trained staff, or a CISC trained volunteer remember that you do NOT speak a person’s name out loud in the emergency shelter area. You can refer to the approved for shelter list, as trained, or you can show the handwritten name and information to shelter staff. IF you have not been CISC trained as staff, refer the situation to a CISC trained staff for presentation to the shelter staff.
Please follow the Neither Confirm Nor Deny Procedure mentioned above when dealing with other any community agency members, including DCS (Department of Child Services). Be kind while standing your ground.