The Utah Rural Foster Grandparent Program is currently looking for individuals 55 and older to help local elementary students learn and excel in school. Interested individuals will have one-on-one interaction with children and will be able to assist students in the classroom.
According to program director, Lynnsi Hayes, a recently acquired grant will enable foster grandparents to volunteer at schools in Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties. Although a similar program has been in place over the past several years, the new grant will allow more grandparents to participate.
The foster grandparent program is designed to help elementary aged students who struggle meeting grade level standards to progress in reading. Many students who are not reading at grade level often fall through the cracks due to large class sizes. This is when foster grandparents step in and assist students with their reading skills and encourage each child to success.
Foster grandparents are placed in local elementary schools and according to Hayes, the children enjoy the companionship. “The children not only respond to the one-on-one tutoring, but they find that a foster grandparent is someone they can trust to believe in them which helps them with difficult situations they may be facing in their (personal) lives,” she explained. “Foster grandparents boost confidence and help students to know they can succeed.”
Through the foster grandparent program, participants are required to serve 15 to 20 hours per week in an assigned school. This amount of time is crucial in developing strong study skills and personal relationships between the volunteer and student.
The program is geared towards low income seniors who are willing to invest their time in making a difference in a child’s life. Eligible participants will receive an hour stipend wage of $2.65 an hour plus mileage, meal reimbursement, monthly training, paid holidays, accrued sick and vacation time, insurance coverage while working and most importantly, the feeling of making a difference in a child’s life.
Foster grandparents have found that the children often touch their lives as well. “I have enjoyed so much being a foster grandparent,” explained Rayleen Cooper. “My favorite thing about working with the children is when they open up to you about all kinds of things that they can’t or won’t share with the teacher. Kids put so much trust in a grandparent figure.”
The Utah Rural Foster Grandparent program is a perfect fit for seniors looking to get out and be part of the community. “This program encourages a retired person to get involved in volunteering,” Deanne Rice stated. “Children will teach you to listen, how to care and how to give and open your heart to love.”
For more information about the foster grandparent program or to join, contact area director, Lynnsi Hayes at (435) 820-6108.