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Community & Economic Development - News

Posted on: May 31, 2022

Foster Grandparent Program Recruiting Volunteers, Ages 55+

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Washtenaw County’s Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) is currently recruiting income-eligible individuals, ages 55 years or older, for a rewarding opportunity to provide educational support and mentorship to youth in local schools, daycare settings, Head Start Programs, and other youth facilities throughout the county. Volunteers receive a financial stipend, training, and professional development to better understand the needs of youth that they work with.

"As a Foster Grandparent, I see that not only the kids need us, but the teachers need us as well,” said Patricia Taylor, FGP volunteer. “Some of the children need extra help that they can’t give them. It delights me to see the glow in their little eyes when they learn something new. There are more children in need and not enough volunteers.”

In 2021, 41 FGP volunteers returned to classrooms, with 36 placements at in-person settings and 5 volunteers supporting remote classrooms. Program staff provided monthly in-service trainings remotely on Zoom, weekly educational activities, and referrals to wrap-around services for participants.

Since 1965 the program has provided valuable aid to children and youth with special needs nationally. The program started in 1968 in Washtenaw County, and every year since then, Foster Grandparents have been role models, mentors, and friends. Grandparents serve locally at schools, day care and Head Start centers, and other youth facilities.

Foster Grandparents help children learn to read, provide on-on-one tutoring, and guide children at a critical time in their lives. Put simply, they give the kind of comfort and love that sets a child on the path towards a successful future.

“Our program helps cultivate multigenerational relationships between older adults and youth,” said Sandy Bowers, FGP Supervisor. “FGP provides seniors with a sense of purpose and a way to prevent social isolation, while at the same time, presenting youth with a positive role model and mentor to help them thrive.”

Participants must meet the following qualifications to be eligible for the program:

  • Location: living in Washtenaw County
  • Age: 55 years or older
  • Income: 200% of Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Poverty Guidelines
  • Must clear state and federal backgrounds checks
  • Ability and willingness to volunteer 20 hours per week (in-person and remote placements available)

Program benefits for seniors include:

  • Participants will receive a $250 monthly stipend (non-taxed)
  • Enhanced social engagement with school staff, students, and other program participants
  • Increased health benefits associated with having a sense of community
  • Transportation and lunch provided at no cost during programming
  • Training and professional development offered
  • An increased sense of purpose and fulfillment, providing mentorship and developing strong connections with youth and school staff
  • Access to other local resources and wrap around services

Individuals can apply by contacting Foster Grandparent Program Supervisor, Sandy Bowers at 734-544-3040 or email at [email protected]. An inquiry form is available on our webpage at https://www.washtenaw.org/fgp.