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Foster Grandparents are Part of the Village



There’s a phrase that people have been using for a while now that states “It takes a village to raise a child”. In today’s world it does take a village, to work with the family, to raise the child and to help weather the storms of life. For some families that means having Grandma or Grandpa step in to help with the children while the parents look for a job or go to work. But what if your family isn’t lucky enough to have an extended family that lives nearby?

 For some classrooms of Bradford Tioga Head Start (BTHS) it means the children get the love and support of a Foster Grandparent. Since 2000 Bradford Tioga Head Start and the Area Agency on Aging for Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties have been collaborating with the Foster Grandparent Program. This program provides people 55 years of age or older a meaningful and challenging volunteer opportunity. It offers the appreciation that older people have experiences, wisdom and love to share with kids, who not only need it, but also welcome it. Just ask Jo Mailer, who is the Foster Grandma for the Troy classrooms of BTHS, why she likes it and she will tell you it is because she enjoys spending time with children.


Who can be a Foster Grandparent and how do you get started? Anyone age 55 or older can be a Foster Grandparent. You need not be a grandparent, or even ever have been a parent to participate. You must meet income eligibility requirements and be willing to serve a minimum of 15 hours per week in sites such as public schools, daycare centers and Head Start centers, working one-on-one with children who have special or exceptional needs. To become a Foster Grandparent you need to complete pre-service orientation training and pass criminal and child line clearances. Benefits include travel reimbursement, daily meal, paid holidays, vacation and sick days, an annual physical and insurance coverage while being a foster grandparent.  

But the biggest and best benefit of all has to be the knowledge you are making a difference in the life of children by providing them the self-esteem needed to gain confidence and independence, to meet their goals and to help them become full and productive members of society. And isn’t that what being part of a village is all about?

 If you, or someone you know, would like to reach out to a child that may need one on one attention from an older adult, call 1-800-982-4346 to learn more about becoming a Foster Grandparent.

 Bradford-Tioga Head Start is a program of Laurel Health System and offers state and federally funded programs for children, ages newborn up to the age of 5; pregnant mothers; and families.  Call 1-800-808-5287, Extension 400, for more information.

 The Foster Grandparent Program is funded by the Corporation for National Senior Services and is sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging for Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga Counties.



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