With Foster Grandparents, everyone wins

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Iím a sucker for efficient solutions. Thatís why Iím such a fan of Children of Promiseís Foster Grandparent program.

The federally funded and locally operated program connects volunteers aged 55 and older with younger children in need of extra care and attention.

Last year, 48 Foster Grandparents logged in more than 25,000 hours. They worked with 225 children at 36 schools, Head Start/Early Head Start Centers and child development centers in Linn, Johnson and Jones counties, according to program organizers.

They helped the kids with literacy and social skills. They were a stable, comforting classroom presence. And they took a big load off teachersí shoulders by spending lots of one-on-one time with youngsters on important skills.

After working with a Foster Grandparent, the youngest day care kids were more engaged, organizers tell me. The older Head Start kids (aged 2-6) had longer attention spans, were better able to follow directions and accomplish tasks.

The elementary school children were much more engaged in reading ó the cornerstone to school success. But the kids and their teachers werenít the only ones to benefit.

In addition to the pride of making such a difference, and the purposefulness of staying active and involved in the community, Foster Grandparent volunteers received a tax-free stipend for their time ó a little something to help keep up with rising costs and maintain their independence. Itís a classic case of win-win-win. My favorite.

Unfortunately, program organizers say if more volunteers donít sign up before the end of March, we might lose that federal funding ó and the Foster Grandparent program ó forever.

They need men and women aged 55 or older, whose annual income isnít much more than 200 percent of the poverty level ($22,340), and are willing to volunteer anywhere from 15-40 hours a week.

Volunteers receive a tax-free stipend of $2.65 per hour, reimbursement for transportation costs and a meal on the days that they serve. They also get the chance to make a difference in their community. To change a kidís life for the better.

All you need to bring is patience and a love of kids. Theyíll teach you the rest.

For more information, contact Gina Tarullo at 319-730-1214 or email cciafostergrandparents@gmail.com

Comments: (319) 339-3154; jennifer.hemmingsen@sourcemedia.net

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