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Plan My Gap Year

Childcare Helper

San José, Costa Rica show on map

Despite the high levels of education and standard of living in Costa Rica, profound poverty still affects families. Help their children to get attention and care.

It is hard to believe, but some individuals live on less than $1 a day! While education is free and mandatory over 280,000 children do not attend school because families depend on them to generate income. The government involvement in the country has heightened in the last decade, which has resulted in children either orphaned, abandoned or forced out of their homes to be placed in Social Welfare Housing.


Much of the assistance for Social Welfare Housing stems from organisations or religious associations from the local area. The local church will raise funds and hosts events to provide activities and engagement for the children under the care of the governmental systems. The purpose of this is to establish an awareness within the community and engage the churches to give them a role and responsibility in the lives of these children. Activities for those in the system include self-awareness, women’s healthcare & puberty assistance, counselling, education assistance and more. Due to the interaction of the church there is a great influence of Christianity and volunteers will encounter this on a consistent basis.


The hope of these institutions is that the home is a bridge to gap the time from their original home to their new home. The foster care system is very strong in aiding to the needs of the children and helping them cope with the lifestyle they came from. In many cases children have been victims abuse. The children are provided with stimulating activities, education, nutrition, healthy home-environment, weekly evaluations with a psychologist and community engagement.


While this reality is hard to face, these housing facilities are a much better outcome than the life of child prostitution, drug abuse, gang violence and crime awaiting them on the streets. The mission of PMGY Costa Rica is to provide assistance for the care givers and offer companionship for the children within these settings. To ensure our volunteers are equipped the childcare programme will include 1 week of language classes to start your project!


On the other end of the spectrum, many parents whom can find work will start early in the morning and work well into the evening. Coronado has a series of nurseries for young children to attend where they are provided meals, education and a place to rest. Volunteers are especially needed in these locations as the ratio of caregivers to children is 1:25 at times. The children are very cute and full of energy so get ready for craft time, meals and lots of singing!

Can I use PMGY's programmes as part of a university placement?

It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.


If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please message us.

Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?

Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.


The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up.

In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.


When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators.

All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.

Typical day

The nursery is about a 30-minute walk from the accommodation, which takes you right through the centre of town! The project cares for up to 60 children from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday providing them meals, music & art activities, minor education in grammar and even cares for new-borns.


The teachers believe that no two students have exactly the same skill set or learning style. The classrooms are full of activity and learning time to cater to many different children and their learning styles. Volunteer interaction enhances this opportunity with small group activities or one-on-one learning. Teachers will utilise volunteers by preparing small lessons in areas such as colours, English alphabet, songs and active learning including games and crafts. Examples of crafts may be ‘Letter of the Week’ allowing with finger-painting, making paper-puppets to learn about animals, using objects to demonstrate basic English words. We ask that volunteer use their imagination and get involved in the lesson planning for the children!


You will also have the chance to work with babies as there are 5-10 at the project each day. The caregivers are always in need of assistance in areas such as cleaning, changing, feeding, soothing and playing. These little ones need a lot of love and attention to thrive and grow each day. Volunteers helping out in this area will be essential as 1 caregiver managing many infants can be very challenging and the extra pair of arms means one more person to sooth the little one and enhance their sensory interaction.


Volunteers will assist the teachers with activities, assist with meal time and nap time, play with the children and teach them English with songs and games. The teachers speak a great level of English so even those with no Spanish are able to easily integrate into this setting. Volunteers will join project from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm or in the afternoon from 1:00pm to 5:00pm

Details on Arrival

Programmes start on Sunday, so you should  arrive into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose on this day.The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.

Free-time activities

You’ll have plenty of opportunity to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time. All of our programmes have been designed so that you have weekends off. This gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures.


PMGY volunteer in Costa Rica participants are based in Coronado. This is a very popular suburb of San Jose and home to nearly 60,000 residents! It’s a small tico town with a very typical way of life. The city is set at the foot of Braulio Carrillo National Park, a virtually untouched location home to over 150 different species of animals. Coronado offers visitors an opportune ability to encounter both the city life and natural wonders of Costa Rica!


Coronado is famous for its neo-Gothic architecture. Right in the centre of the city lies the most beautiful cathedrals in Costa Rica, San Isidro de Coronado. Aside from the beauty of this location you can find yourself at a prime spot to take a boat tour through the rain forest, hike to the Locos por el Bosque cloudforest reserve, eat at Kaffa Café and visit the La Paz Waterfalls Gardens.


Our participants are situated in a great location to explore the local sites, from Coronado is located 10km from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Take off after your morning Spanish lessons to visit for a cappuccino or fresh juice at the local cafe, hope on a bus to the San Jose for a movie at the cinema or even join a tour to Irazú Volcano. Be sure to plan out your time volunteering so you don’t miss some of the best attractions in San Jose including the National Museum, Plaza de la Cultura, the up and coming Escalante neighbourhood with cool bars and restaurants and the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden.


This suburb offers an extremely diverse atmosphere, perfect for any traveller!


The surf city! The year-round constant surf will be the perfect place to learn or enjoy the waves. The town is the closest to San José, making it perfect for a day or weekend escapade. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains where you can hike and explore for yourself or hop on an aerial tram to the top only to descend by zip-lines. You can easily rent a board or book a surf lesson to get wet, then enjoy cheap-but-delicious local meals or a more fine dining in one of the many international food restaurants.


Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level) and Spanish (basic level)
Criminal Background Check
Education Requirements
at High School/University level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
You should be physically fit, as volunteering overseas can be quite strenuous. If you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas then these must be declared to us.
While the programmes only require you to speak a basic level of Spanish, we find that the ability to speak a good level of Spanish will greatly enhance your overall experience.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 13:00

Suitable for


Included Services

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All program fees are charged directly by Plan My Gap Year.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Plan My Gap Year (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Plan My Gap Year
Your fee includes both your registration fee and programme fees.

Your programme fee includes; accommodation, airport pickup (24 hours), in-country orientation, private transport to projects, 24 hour in-country support.

Your registration fee includes; 24 hour UK based support, comprehensive volunteer handbook, live pre-departure webinars, 100% financial protection, regular programme inspection.
Airport Pickup at Juan Santamaria International Airport
You should arrive into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose (airport code SJO) on the selected Sunday start date. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.

During your time with PMGY in Costa Rica you will live in our Volunteer House located in Coronado, a suburb of San Jose. You will find restaurants, convenience stores, cafés, pubs and ATMs all within walking distance. You’ll be living with other volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.

The accommodation is comfortable with free Wi-Fi. Each room has single or bunk beds with up to 3 people per room in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with cupboard space and bed linens. Bathrooms are shared, but have a hot shower and western style toilet. 

 The house has a communal area for volunteers to hang out. We encourage you to bring some small padlocks to store any valuables in your own bags, but there is a safe in each room for shared storage. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled in the kitchen. The Volunteer House has a laundry room on site to do all your own washing equipped with washers and dryers!

 Volunteers are a short walk from the centre of Coronado meaning that restaurants, supermarkets, cafes and projects are close by! The house is in a compound with 24-hour security and a digital keypad to open and close the front gates. This is to ensure that volunteers are safe. Meals are not provided so there are fully equipped kitchens to prepare all of your food within the house. This accommodation setup offers volunteers the unique experience of living with lots of other volunteers as well as an independent environment in this Latin American country.

 During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.

Meals are not provided with PMGY Costa Rica, but there is a food truck that comes to the compound Monday-Friday packed with sandwiches, local meals, Caribbean dishes and yummy desserts. The food truck ensures that even if you aren’t the chef fellow volunteers may be, you can still eat well and feel full while learning Spanish or helping the kids at project! Meals are going to cost around $6 and if you like something specific you can even ask for them to bring it the next day.

Dorm Room Bedroom (Single)
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. We assist you to find cheap flights to Costa Rica.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Costa Rica provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Costa Rica you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Costa Rica.
Costs (Prices in USD)
4 weeks (min. stay)
6 weeks
8 weeks
10 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in San José/Costa Rica between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Plan My Gap Year will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Costa Rica.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Plan My Gap Year during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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